Holiday Meals and Parties – Gracefully Saying No to Alcohol

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

chairlift-114744_640Many holidays, parties, and celebrations can seem to be the gateway for permissible drinking. The nature of parties is one that is inviting, relaxing and alluring. When most individuals think about participating in a party or celebration, there is a sense of entitlement to “have a good time” without much responsibility.

As a recovering alcoholic, your perception on parties, holidays and celebrations has likely changed drastically. In the past, parties may have been a time for you to indulge in specialty drinks with family and friends, possibly going past your limit for the sake of “celebrating”.

While others may be able to accompany holiday celebrations with alcohol in moderation, this will always be a challenging aspect for someone in recovery. In order to maintain your sobriety, it is essential to learn how to say no to alcohol.

This can be a challenging aspect for any person, especially if you are consistently in an environment with access to alcoholic beverages.

Being Mindful and Intentional about Recovery

Though you may feel it is justifiable to have a drink in a party or holiday setting, remember how key your sobriety is to your recovery. Relapses can occur quickly if you are not mindful and intentional about protecting your recovery, and it is crucial that you are making choices that support your decision to remain sober.

Even if you are committed to recovery, it can still feel awkward to be in a setting where alcohol is in abundance and readily accessible for consuming.

Whatever type of situation you might be in, know that you possess the power to say no. You are under no obligation at all to consume alcohol, nor should you feel pressured to do so as you fight for recovery.

Learning How to Turn Down Alcohol

hand-287041_640There are many tactful ways in which you can turn down an alcoholic beverage to ensure that you are keeping your sobriety a priority. Here are some helpful suggestions that can help you learn how to gracefully say no to alcohol:

Learn to assert yourself:

Some people might feel ashamed to admit their past struggles or embarrassed to say that they are remaining sober. This can be especially difficult to do with friends and family members who were a part of your alcoholic past.

Learn to voice yourself and assert your needs. This can be done politely while still effectively communicating your desires. If you find yourself afraid to do so around certain groups of people, reflect on the type of relationship you may have with these individuals.

Are these friends uplifting and encouraging in your recovery journey? Ideally, you want people in your life that will support your decision to remain sober.

Make it about the relationships:

Many parties and celebrations are often centered on bars or the drinks being offered. If your family or friends often gather around alcohol in some form for celebrations, suggest a new tradition.

Try an interactive activity that the entire family can enjoy, such as a picnic with outdoor activities. Focus on building relationships with the people you are with rather than spending time drinking or playing games that involves alcohol.

You will likely find that the time invested in the people you love is worthwhile as you develop stronger relationships with one another.

Be prepared to set boundaries:

Some individuals may not understand your recovery or commitment to sobriety, and that is okay. You cannot realistically expect people to change in your life simply because you have made the decision to become sober.

Even is a friend or family member cannot understand your choice does not mean that you must be persuaded to live otherwise. Your life is your own and no one else can maintain your sobriety and recovery but YOU!

There Is Always a Way Out

cappadocia-235668_640Have limits and boundaries with friends and be sure to honor those limits. For example, if you have chosen not to set foot in a bar scene, do not let a friend convince you otherwise. As an individual, you know best how to protect the hard work you have put into becoming sober.

In any situation, there is always a way out, always a way to make the best decision that will ultimately progress you in your recovery from an alcohol addiction. Be empowered by knowing that you are strong and able to overcome any trigger that you might face along your journey.

Community discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are your tips for saying no gracefully to alcohol?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 1st, 2015
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