12 Tips for Partying Sober During the Holidays

For a recovering addict or alcoholic, holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s can be annual versions of The Bermuda Triangle. To stay out of the danger zone, it is best to prepare yourself for the potential threats to your sobriety before you encounter them. Here are 12 Tips you can follow for partying sober during the holidays:

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Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom from Want,” 1943.
Story illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” March 6, 1943. Photo Credit www.nrm.org.

1-Prepare your mind

Have a few lines handy for when someone offers you a drink at a holiday party. “No thank you, but I’ll take a Coke.” If you are constantly asked, be repetitive and consistent with your answers and answer firmly, “No.”


Spend time helping at a soup kitchen or helping children’s charities. You’ll find that giving your time will feel amazing and still give you the ability to be social during the holiday season.

3-Be the designated driver for the evening

By being the designated driver, this will make you look responsible and will prevent more people from asking you to drink with them.

4-Celebrate the sober life

Host your own substance-free shindig. Arrange games and chances for attendees to win prizes.

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Snowboarding Christmas outing. Photo Credit: Jakob Owens.

5-Have an escape plan

If you are at an event where people have a lot of alcohol, attend the party with a sober friend. If your urges are too strong, set an alternative plan for the night so you won’t feel obligated to stay.

6-Avoid familiar places

Stay away from old hangout areas and minimize the time you spend with old friends if you happen to run into them.


Avoid being too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired before an event. This can lead to stronger urges to relapse.

8-Follow your recovery routine

Stick as close to your recovery routine as possible during the holidays.


Exercise on a regular schedule. Dancing at holiday parties can also help keep your mind off of drinking.


Try to stand closer to the food than the drinks at social gatherings.

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New Year’s Eve celebration with sparklers. Photo credit: Sang Huynh.

11-Do not overeat

Try not to overeat. This can lead to HALT feelings and feelings of guilt. Instead, watch your portions and schedule meals appropriately.

12-Seek assistance when needed

Attend a 12-step meeting before or after the holidays as a reminder that you are not in this alone. The encouragement will help you stay focused on your sober journey throughout the holiday season.

Many of The Council on Recovery’s staff will be unavailable on major federal holidays. However, the building will be open to host meetings and yoga classes. For more information please contact 713.942.4100 or email us here. Happy Holidays!

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 7

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 7 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

So…having taken the steps to engage the process of Recovery in earnest, we have seen that the initial requirement is a rigorous exploration of the events of our past lives in the addictions. This “fearless inventory of ourselves” is meant to bring into consciousness the full extent of our disease, in all of its aspects.  We take inventory, try to understand the full extent of our disease and who we hurt in the travesties of our “acting out,” and then work to repair such travesties where we can.  The final steps, outlining the requirements of a continuing life in sobriety, provide a road map for daily living.

Continue reading “The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 7”

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 6

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 6 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

Joseph Campbell was a preeminent mythologist whose lifelong scholarship focused on the powerful messages inherent in stories from various societies, stories both fiction and true, from all the areas of the globe and all the ages of time. The representative power of “story” to convey belief systems and psychical messages can be found in many places, even in some far removed from the scholarship of the work of Campbell and others

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has been tossed by a tornado into a strange, fantastical land from which she only wants to find her way back home. She is told that to do so, she must “follow the yellow brick road,” capture the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, and take it to the Great Wizard of Oz who will provide the answer she seeks. She enlists the help of others, those similarly seeking something to which they aspire, and pursues this Journey. While it is beset with all kinds of terrors, she is successful in capturing the Broomstick, only to find that the Wizard is but a sham. In the aftermath of missteps with the Wizard, however, Glinda, the Good Witch, who originally told Dorothy to “follow the yellow brick road,” now tells her that getting home can be as easy as closing her eyes, clicking her ruby red heels, and imagining the journey home. But it was the Journey of the movie that Dorothy had to pursue first, with all its horrors, in order to develop the strength and the consciousness that ultimately allowed her to imagine her way home.

What another wonderful analogy for our own perilous journeys. While this story might seem a bit superficial to those of us suffering from the horrors of the diseases of addiction, it is embedded in our minds and hearts from its constant re-screenings since first produced in 1939. Dorothy trying to get home is a good analogy for all of us looking for and finding a life of sobriety and serenity, a place of peace just in our own hearts. The process to follow the yellow brick road, to face and conquer the demons however horrific, to be careful of the false shamans, and to realize in the end that, as a result of the journey and the conquests, home is just a place of serenity in our own hearts, is a spectacular revelation. For some, like me, the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch can be a symbol of our own Souls, a core element of ourselves which we must retrieve from the demons who stole it from us in another lifetime, in order to find our own “home.”

The idea of “home” being that place in our own hearts where, as a result of our journey of progress, we achieve a soulful life and a psychical joy, is very powerful. Over time, it becomes something we can only accept as being miraculous, the gift of a “power greater than ourselves,” which we have learned to embrace. We are now arriving at a place we might call a “Promised Land.”

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 2

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W., presents Part 2 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, has said that “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”  For those of us sufferers of addiction, the first step in the Journey to Sobriety may seem more like “a giant leap for mankind.”  Few of us are able to take that step without great difficulty and without many, many mis-steps.  The step to commit ourselves to the pursuit of a sober life can actually be the most difficult one in our lives.

In the concept of the Hero’s Journey, as it is known in literary and psychical circles, the first step results from a very poignant internal “call to adventure.”  It is the call to pursue a journey to gain some desperately needed boon for one’s self, for one’s family or for one’s community. For the addictive personality, mired in the terror of mindless consumptive or behavioral activity, this call is a deep internal cry for help.  When that cry finally hits us as unavoidable and impossible to ignore, we finally begin the journey…we enter the “rooms.”

We may have begun this before, perhaps many times. In the Hero’s Journey, there is a phase called “refusing the call,” where intense fear of the journey causes hesitation and procrastination.   For we sufferers of the diseases of addiction, the required admission of powerlessness to begin the journey can be elusive. Each time, the ability to reject the notion that the substance or behavior pattern that consumes us is too “valuable” to relinquish, looms as impossible.  Each prior time we couldn’t make that leap.  But then something hits us, that internal call to “adventure,” the call to pursue the life we see more clearly as absolutely necessary, strikes deep in our soul…and we begin. We embrace all the women and men who are standing by to help. We open our ears and we finally begin to listen. It still hurts, it still pains us to live each moment, each day without the drug…but we do, because we must, because to not do so is, eventually, to die.

…and, by doing so, by beginning, by surrendering, by just listening, we slowly but surely start to grow….