We have a ton of holiday articles about avoiding relapse during annual festivities. But this year, New Start would like to encourage and remind families to foster a supportive environment for their sober loved ones. Most of these tips for sobriety during holidays are also relevant year-round!

Loved One Sobriety During Holidays

Don’t Patronize or “Other” Them

Supporting a newly sober loved one presents complications. Although you may be tempted to “baby” them with constant checking in, these sorts of questions often come across as patronizing or even humiliating:

  • “Will you be okay if I have a drink?”

    While it seems thoughtful to be considerate, you’ll want to avoid this question on the spot. It puts your sober loved one in an awkward position (a “spotlight” so to speak) and acts as a wet blanket for whatever you’re doing. If you’re really that worried about it, ask your loved one very casually when there is no bar/server in front of you. That way they won’t feel like they are depriving you of anything if they DO care, and they won’t be taken out of the moment if they DON’T care.

  • “Should I tell them `{`extended family, friends et cetera`}` that you’re sober?”

    It’s not your place to share this information. Managing sobriety is a very personal journey. Part of that journey is learning to say no to temptation. If they’re not ready to politely refuse a drink at a party, they shouldn’t be attending that party to begin with. Setting healthy boundaries is one of the first things they learn in rehab. It’s your loved one’s call whether they want to break anonymity or not.

  • “What did you talk about in group?”

    It’s okay to ask how they’re doing in treatment. But asking for specifics comes across as invasive and perhaps even violating. There’s a reason it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous—anonymity allows members to share their problems without fear of being exposed or emotionally compromised at work or home. If you think your loved one needs to talk about their issues, though, we encourage you to ask if they’d like to talk about anything. It’s all about phrasing!

“Othering” such as this is a counter-productive approach to handling (or rather, not handling) your recovering loved one. Othering/patronizing isn’t usually intentional. It’s often loved ones’ way of trying to respect space; however, intent doesn’t always translate well.

Stash Liquor Bottles Out of Sight

Sure, it’s a little inconvenient to make liquor less accessible. But big alcohol bottles act as huge triggers for people in early recovery. We’re not saying that you should get rid of your alcohol completely (although it helps)—just large stashes of it that remain unused.

They don’t even have to be locked away—stashed on a high shelf works, or behind other bottles/food items, et cetera. This makes it easier to maintain sobriety during holidays.

Offer to Seek the Help They Need

Not all people are in a good place in their sobriety during holidays. Maybe they relapsed. Maybe they’ve never been to treatment to begin with. Whatever the case, if they need help, they’re not likely to seek it out for themselves.

Calling a treatment center is a quick and easy way to offer them options for getting back on track. Our addiction counselors are available 24/7: 855-737-7363

Offer Them Rides to Their Meetings

While some people in recovery prefer to keep their meeting locations private, others would really appreciate the gesture. And with the availability of Uber and Lyft services, their meeting locations can remain relatively private regardless.

Anything to make their outpatient program easier is a thoughtful surprise, especially for people in early recovery. It’s also great for supporting sobriety during holidays.

Holiday-Themed Drink for Sobriety During Holidays

Alcohol-free, of course! If your loved one is anything like me, they probably get tired of all Christmas-themed cocktails and jello shots that are simply off limits at holiday parties. Too many boozy spirits really put a damper on the Christmas spirit.

While immediate family often remains on high alert for relapse triggers, extended family and friends hosting adult-only holiday parties don’t always feel so compelled. After all, normies like to let loose when enjoying their hard-earned time off. And that’s fine! But the simple act of offering inclusive non-alcoholic drink options allows sober loved ones to feel less tempted to relapse on the sly.

We’ve found some fun festive drink options (with no booze) that you can make, or that you can nudge toward your loved ones to make for you!

Sparkling Gingerale Apple Punch

Christmas Morning Punch

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Slow Cooker Mexican Hot Chocolate

Don’t make a big deal out of it, though—it can come across as patronizing.

Support Means Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries establish somewhere between overbearing and aloof on your part. It can be difficult to understand the nuances if you don’t know what boundaries look like for someone working a program.

If you need help learning what those look like, we encourage you to join our free open family support group nights. Check our calendar for dates. If you or someone you love is ready to get help for a substance abuse problem, call one of our addiction counselors today: 855-737-7363