Photo of addiction peer coach Dave Jansa

Staying well during the holidays

Meet Dave
Dave is a long-term survivor of the chronic disease of addiction. He's also one of the creators of our loved one coaching program, including its curriculum, training and execution.

Q: Should I still go to holiday parties if I don't want to drink?

A: Navigating social situations like holiday parties can be difficult for people who’ve recently started their wellness journey. 

Preparing and rehearsing are two of the most important ways you can equip yourself. For starters, be prepared to be offered your drug of choice, and be prepared to refuse it. If that's not something you're ready to do, you may want to skip certain parties this year.

When you're part of any type of gathering, always have a beverage in your hand, even if it's water. It will help reduce, but probably won't eliminate, the number of times people offer you a drink. And it never hurts to bring your non-alcoholic beverage of choice with you, if that's possible.

If someone notices that you're not drinking, and asks why, respond however it feels most comfortable to you. Some people are open about their sobriety, while others prefer to keep answers more vague. Even a simple explanation, like, "for my health," or, "I have an early appointment tomorrow," can be effective.

If you're worried about feeling pressure to drink in a social setting, ask someone you trust to serve as your support system for the night. They can back you up and show solidarity if needed. That person doesn’t have to be in recovery, but they’re someone you can lean on during stressful situations. If they’re willing and able, rehearsing and creating an exit strategy with them is incredibly helpful.

Speaking of exit strategies, I'd always recommend preparing one, especially if you're new to sobriety and nervous about maintaining it. If something unexpected happens or something you try doesn’t work, be prepared to leave. Take your "buddy" with you and leave early. Or, if you’re really apprehensive to begin with, you can always make an excuse not to go. It may feel uncomfortable to not attend, but your wellness is worth it.

Ultimately, navigating social scenarios is different for everyone. If you’re unsure what’s best for you, one of our peer coaches can help you go through your options. We've been through those early days of recovery ourselves and can relate to how they feel.

Stay safe, and happy holidays!

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