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:

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.”

2-Volunteer

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.

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.

7-HALT

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.

9-Exercise

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

10-Relocate

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

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!

Binge Drinking: A Big Problem for Young Adults Not in College

There is a public health crisis plaguing the U.S. once again, binge drinking. People who binge drink may not do so during the regular weekdays, but may consume excessive amounts over the weekend. Binge drinking is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. An estimated 88,000 people die from excessive alcohol use each year.

In 1998, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) gathered a task force to solve problems related to binge drinking in college. They analyzed behaviors of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 years of age. Their 2002 study found that from 1999 to 2005, the percentage of college students who reported binge drinking rose from 42 percent to 45 percent. These numbers then declined to 37 percent by 2014. These improved statistics seemed promising, but another demographic became an even greater cause for concern.

Recently, binge drinking for non-college young adults has increased from 36 percent to 40 percent. Young men are twice more likely to binge drink than young women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Representation of how many people binge drink in the U.S.; categorized by age. Photo Credit: CDC.

Ralph Hingson, the creator of the CDC study, believes that this group of young adults are binge drinking more because they don’t have as many organizational involvement in their spare time. Binge drinking is not only a problem in adolescents and young adults but in every age demographic in the U.S.

“People often don’t recognize binge drinking as a problem because it’s not a daily thing,” Gregory Smith, M.D. stated in an interview with Men’s Fitness.

The following are signs that a person is a binge drinker:

Becoming a big risk taker

The person may act out of character and make bad decisions that lead to an increased possibility of contracting an STD or getting a DUI.

Drinking heavily every weekend

Abstaining from drinking during the week does not make it a wise decision to drink eight drinks in one night as a reward. Excessive drinking can lead to raised blood pressure, increase the risks of cancer, and interfere with medication.

Exceeding your alcohol limit

If the drinker has difficulty sticking with a planned number of drinks or doesn’t remember how many they’ve had, there is a problem.

Black Out

Heavy drinking interferes with a brain messenger called glutamate which is linked to memory. If the drinker cannot remember events of the night, he/she may have experienced a blackout.

Neglecting your responsibilities

If the person is usually hard-working, dedicated to his/her goals, but has replaced those characteristics with hangovers and drunken happy hours, there is a drinking problem.

About 22 million people need treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, but less than 1% actually receive treatment. If you know someone who needs us, please contact The Council on Recovery at 713.914.0556 for assistance.

The Healing Power of Laughter

There are many ways to improve one’s health. Perhaps one of the most effective options is laughter. Humorous thoughts can decrease anger because it is hard to be angry while laughing. Anger and humor are incompatible mood states just like anxiety and relaxation. Humor can also be used to manage conflict. Using lighthearted humor to deliver bad news can decrease tension and anger. In fact, laughter is becoming one of the most popular additional treatments for people struggling with chronic mental and physical health issues.

Laughter Yoga has been a growing trend over the past decade. The traditional breathing exercises used during yoga are used in order to oxygenate the body and its organs. The breathing and laughter exercises are equivalent to the effects of a cardio workout by increasing energy and relaxation throughout the body.  You do not have to be in the mood to laugh in order to participate in Laughter Yoga. The exercises make you laugh until it becomes contagious.

Laughing releases endorphins from your brain, reduces the level of stress in your body, and strengthens the immune system.  It is proven that laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, can reduce negativity, emotional stress, and physical discomfort.

Life can sometimes offer tragic and impossible situations, but laughter can give you relief through those dark times. Comedians have the power to make audiences laugh even when life isn’t funny. They have the skill to give a different perspective using their experiences and unique interpretations.

In 2012, comedienne Tig Notaro was nominated for an Emmy for her stand up entitled, “Live,” where she performed just two weeks after learning the news that she had stage two breast cancer. She used this stand up to process her reality and to experience laughter in a time of darkness.

“She has this way of dropping her jokes that are – they’re wonderful, deadly jokes. And they’re about small things usually, like bees and drapes, but they’re incredible,” said fellow comedian Louis C.K. in an NPR interview. “So here she is applying it to something really big. It was an incredible example of what comedy is good at, which is taking people to the scary parts of their mind and making them laugh in those scary places.”

Rich Vos performing at The Stress Factory Comedy Club
Rich Vos performing at The Stress Factory Comedy Club on March 27, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Come and find healing through laughter at the Sober Recreation Committee’s annual Addicted to Comedy show on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 8 pm – 10 pm. Comedian Rich Vos will be headlining the event. He has written for the Oscars twice and has been seen on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. Being 31 years sober from drug and alcohol addiction, he knows all about laughing through the darkness.  All proceeds from the show will go towards the Sober Recreation Committee (SRC).

To register for this event click here.

For more information about services offered at The Council on Recovery, visit www.councilonrecovery.org.