Christmas music is now playing in stores and on the radio and you are newly sober. Congratulations!

This is an incredibly vulnerable time for a newly recovered person. Even the music can be a trigger. Recovery is a process and will be tested many times over the years. It’s one day at a time. But that first holiday season IS tough. If you can acknowledge this and make a sober plan, you will be okay. First and foremost, be gentle on yourself.

Here are just a few tips for maintaining that sobriety you just worked so hard to achieve. Chances are that you have gone through detox, rehab, IOP, or 12 step program. Remember those resources are still available to you and always be. Many have 24-hour support.

      1. Have a plan….for everything. Don’t take any situation lightly or for granted
      2. Identify an accountability partner-whether it be a friend, a family member or a sponsor. Speak to that person daily if possible, but certainly before and after attending any holiday get together
      3. Remember, it’s just another day. Yes, it’s a holiday, but that does not mean your sobriety is on vacation. Protect it like you would your most prized possession. Right now it is!
      4. Identify charged people and situations. Limit contact and avoid these people and situations if you must. If you have to limit your time at an event, limit your time.
      5. If you have to skip an event, skip an event. Make an excuse if you have to. Take care of you.
      6. If you must go, have an exit plan. Take your own car. Slip out without saying goodbye. Whatever you must do, do it.
      7. Make sure that someone at that gathering knows that you are newly sober and ask them to help you and check-in with you throughout the event. This will be an honor for someone


      8. Celebrate in a way that does not involve substances…even if it means you eat 3 pieces of cake.
      9. Remember that the cravings will pass. Don’t give them the power to derail you.
      10. Avoid HALT-hungry, angry, lonely and tired.
      11. Exercise before an event if you can. Hopefully, your natural endorphins will help see you through.
      12. In the case of alcohol remember “One drink is too many, and a thousand is not enough.”
      13. You are thinking that first sip or hit might feel so good-but then remember the guilt, shame and physical effects that you will feel afterward. It’s simply not worth it.
      14. Everyone makes different choices – your choice has been to put down the substance. It doesn’t matter what day it is. Honor your choice!
      15. Celebrate yourself. Acknowledge how far you have come. Remember there will be challenges, always. This day is no different than any other day.

The holiday season does not have to be miserable. And, you don’t have to wait until after the holidays to address your addictions. We can help you NOW and will be there for you throughout the holidays. That’s our promise to you. Please call us at 877-773-3869 to learn more about our opioid and alcohol detox services at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine.

Deborah Reich, M.D.