How to Avoid Alcohol During the Holidays

The holidays. Typically a time of cheer and familial bonding, for someone struggling with alcohol addiction or recovery it is a time of dread and temptation. The family get-togethers, the office parties, and the meetings with friends all become something to fear. This is because so many of these activities involve alcohol. However, there are a number of things that you can do to avoid alcohol during the holidays.


Perhaps the best way to avoid alcohol during the holidays, is to do just that. Avoid it. In other words, stay away from high risk situations that make you want to drink. Some of these situations may include:

  • workplace parties,
  • meetings with friends in bars or clubs,
  • family dinners in restaurants that serve alcohol, and
  • dinners and parties at private residences where alcohol is likely to be served.

It is important to remind yourself that your health and well-being are more important than missing out on a couple of parties. Also, there is no reason that you should avoid these situations forever. There are some skills that can be developed to help you cope with your triggers.

Resisting the urge

Confide in a friend when you have urges.

Confide in a friend when you have urges.

It is inevitable that you will find yourself in a situation where you must resist the urge to drink. At no time is this more likely than during the holidays. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are a number of techniques you can employ to resist the urge. These are:

  • carrying a list of the reasons you decided to stop drinking, so you can refer to it in times of temptation,
  • having someone to talk to, such as a trusted friend or AA sponsor,
  • finding ways to distract yourself, such as reading, exercise, or playing games,
  • self-analyzing and confronting your urges,
  • riding the urge out, and
  • leaving a bad situation if it feels like it is getting out of control.

All of these things are good for helping to resist the urge to drink.

How to say “no”

Sometimes it is not a matter of resisting one’s own urges, but in resisting temptation or pressure from others. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are two main types of pressure. These are direct, where someone offers you a drink, and indirect, where being around those that are drinking creates the urge to drink. However, there are several things that can help you say “no”, including:

  • not hesitating when refusing,
  • looking the person in the eyes while refusing,
  • keeping your refusals short and simple,
  • having viable excuses ready (trying to improve health, designated driver, etc.), and
  • practicing saying “no” in different ways before you are in a situation where you have to.

It is also practical to carry a non-alcoholic drink, so that you can claim to already have a drink. This way, you are not considered rude or ungrateful.


There is one other option when it comes to avoiding alcohol during the holidays. That option is medication. According to the Columbia University Medical Center, there are three medications available that help reduce cravings for alcohol, or introduce unpleasant consequences for drinking. However, these medications all have side-effects, and do not work for everybody. Whatever methods work best for your situation, what is most important is not damaging your recovery. Only you know how hard you have worked to achieve change, and only you know what you stand to lose if you are unsuccessful. For more information about avoiding alcohol during the holidays call us at 1-800-895-1695.

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