Sober Survival Guide: How to Get Through the Holidays Without Drinking

The holidays are a tough time for anyone, but they can be especially difficult for those in recovery. From the short days to the constant social situations where alcohol is being served, it’s easy to feel triggered and slip up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and some creativity, you can get through the holidays without drinking and feeling better for it. Here are some tips on how to stay sober during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to avoid drinking during the holidays is to plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be in a situation where there will be alcohol, come up with an exit strategy beforehand. That might mean leaving early or having a friend or family member who can drive you home if things get too overwhelming.

It’s also helpful to have a non-alcoholic beverage in hand at all times so you don’t feel left out when everyone else is drinking. Mocktails are a great option and can often be made at home with ingredients you already have on hand. Or, if you’re going out, most bars and restaurants will have non-alcoholic options available upon request. A unique and effective solution is drinking sparkling water as it is refreshing and healthy so you can also get the sparkling water benefit as well.

Lake Effect, a popular restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for both its classic and unique drink options. But, you don’t have to have a drink in hand to enjoy the nightlife or family gatherings planned at an event venue such as this. By planning beforehand to order a non-alcoholic drink, you can maintain your sobriety at public or private parties.

Yummy Mocktail Recipes for the Holidays

Here are some festive winter mocktails you can try this season at seasonal gatherings or at home with loved ones.

Cranberry Mint Mocktail from Simply Stacie


  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/4 sparkling water
  • 2 tablespoons of mint syrup
  • 8 to 16 frozen fresh cranberries
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice or ice cubes


  1. In a large measuring cup, pour in cranberry juice, sparkling water, and mint syrup. Stir to combine.
  2. Pour into two cocktail glasses filled with crushed ice and fresh cranberries.
  3. Garnish with a spring of fresh mint.

Cranberry Pineapple Mocktail from Finding Zest


  • 4 cups sparkling cranberry flavored fruit juice cocktail blend
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange to make zest curls


  1. Mix all sparkling cranberry juice blend and pineapple juice.
  2. Garnish with fresh cranberries and orange zest curls if desired.

Tom collins Mocktail from Cook at Home Mom


  • 2 ounces non-alcoholic gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 – 1 ounce simple syrup )depending on how sweet you like)
  • 2 – 3 ounces club soda
  • 1 cup ice


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Measure the non-alcoholic gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup and pour into the cocktail shaker. Cover tightly and shake well.
  2. Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Pour the mocktail mixture over the ice. Top off with club soda to fill the glass to the top, then garnish with a lemon wheel and serve.

Get Creative

Create or attend events that don’t revolve around alcohol. There are plenty of holiday-themed activities that don’t involve drinking, such as ice skating, seeing holiday lights, or attending a holiday concert. Find an event that speaks to you and make it a priority to attend with people who love and support you.

Make Time for Self-Care

The holidays can be stressful for anyone, so it’s important to make time for self-care. This might mean going for a walk outside every day, meditating for 10 minutes each morning, or taking a yoga class once a week. Taking care of yourself will help reduce stress and anxiety, and make it easier to resist temptation. These activities are beneficial for everyone during the holidays, not just those trying to stay sober!

Corner Canyon Counseling services suggests the following coping skills for anyone who needs to deal with depression, which can be especially prevalent in the winter months. The lack of Vitamin D can bring on strong symptoms of depression, so try combating them with these tips:

  • Stay Physically Active
  • Meditate (whatever that looks like for you!)
  • Make a Connection with Nature
  • Eat a Balanced Diet
  • Journal

Combined with therapy and/or prescription medication, these tools can help reduce the severity of depression, whether it’s seasonal or year-round.

Watch for Warning Signs

The holidays can be a triggering time for many people struggling with addiction, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of relapse. If you start to feel yourself slipping, reach out to your support system right away. This could be your sponsor, therapist, sober friends, or any other trusted individual who can help you get back on track. It’s also important to keep up with your sobriety tools during this time, such as attending counseling and 12-step meetings regularly. Exercise and hobbies are great ways to stay connected to yourself and relieve stress naturally. 

Create or Join a Support System

If you don’t already have one, now is the time to create or join a support system of fellow recovering addicts. This could be an online forum or group, or an in-person meeting. There are also many sobriety apps available that can help you stay on track. Whatever form your support system takes, make sure you check in with it regularly during the holidays. One of the biggest tips the SOLbriety has for recovering addicts is to stay active in social circles, whether it’s through volunteering or personal relationships.

The holidays don’t have to be a minefield for those in recovery. With a little planning and some creativity, you can get through them without drinking and even enjoy yourself in the process. Just remember to watch for warning signs, reach out for help when you need it, and continue working on your sobriety through various channels. Surround yourself with a strong support system of sober friends and family members who will help you make it through this time of year.

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