Christmas is a time of year that’s meant to be filled with joy, celebrating with loved ones. However, for those in recovery, the festive period can bring feelings of stress, temptation, and isolation, making it a challenging time to maintain sobriety and mental well-being.

At Nova Recovery, we understand that Christmas, and even the time leading up to the festive season, can be a challenging time, not just for the person in recovery but also for their nearest and dearest who worry about how they’ll cope.

In this article, we explore useful ways to celebrate the festive season whilst also recovering from addiction, providing tips and strategies for maintaining sobriety. We’ll also discuss how to navigate social gatherings, handle stress, and find joy in new, healthier traditions!

How to Celebrate Christmas in Recovery

See below for our tips and advice to help you navigate the season and have a joyful Christmas in recovery!


Don’t Cancel Christmas Altogether 

Whilst it’s tempting for some to stay away from all forms of Christmas or new year celebrations, this approach may not be the most beneficial in the long run.

If you’re new to life in recovery, however, it’s best to go at your own pace. After all, recovery is about finding balance and learning to navigate life’s challenges and joys, including holidays like Christmas. Instead of avoiding the season altogether, consider redefining what Christmas means to you in this new phase of your life.


Plan for the Festive Season in Advance

Leading on from the above, instead of cancelling Christmas altogether – plan ahead.

Knowing the schedule of events and understanding your triggers can help you prepare mentally and emotionally. For example, if you anticipate a situation might be challenging for your sobriety, have a plan in place to leave early or bring a sober friend for support.


Focus on Creating New Christmas Traditions

Start new, healthy traditions that don’t revolve around alcohol or substances. This could include outdoor activities, game nights, or even volunteering for organisations that help those who are less fortunate over the Christmas period. These activities can provide a sense of joy, purpose and fulfilment that goes beyond the temporary happiness that alcohol or substances offer.


Seek Professional Support and Attend Support Groups

If you’re finding things particularly challenging, don’t hesitate to seek additional professional help.

Therapists or counsellors specialising in addiction recovery can provide valuable support during the holidays. Additionally, attending support groups for more support is also a great idea. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are great resources, and there will be many people who feel the same way over the holiday season. These meetings will provide you with a safe space to connect to people who are on a similar journey to you, offering understanding, shared experiences, and mutual support.

There might also be individuals who have been in recovery for some time attending these meetings, who can help you navigate the challenges of the season, giving you a sense of community and belonging that is especially valuable during times when feelings of isolation or temptation may be stronger.


Opt for Non-Alcoholic Refreshments

If you are a loved one of someone who is in recovery, always make sure to provide non-alcoholic drinks at gatherings you are hosting.

Alternatively, if you’re in recovery and planning on attending gatherings over the Christmas season, ensure there are non-alcoholic beverages available. This not only gives you something to drink but also can avoid drawing attention to your sobriety, which is best for those who might not want to speak openly about their experiences.


Focus on Gratitude

It’s essential to shift your attention from potential negatives and ‘what if’ scenarios to the positive aspects of your life. One effective method is keeping a gratitude journal, which can help you consistently recognise and appreciate the positives.

Engaging in practices like mindfulness or meditation can also be beneficial. These activities not only aid in managing cravings or stress but also enhance your capacity to appreciate and savour the present moment.


Offer to Host the Festivities

If you’re comfortable with the idea, host a sober event. This allows you to control the environment and ensure it’s a safe space for your sobriety.

Planning a sober event allows you to focus on creative and engaging activities that don’t centre around drinking. So, for example, you might want to organise games, music, or even a theme that encourages guests to immerse themselves in the fun without the need for alcoholic beverages.

This kind of gathering not only supports your sobriety but also shows your friends and family that enjoyable and memorable times can be had without alcohol. Plus, it can feel quite empowering. It reinforces your commitment to sobriety and demonstrates to others that a fulfilling social life is possible without relying on substances. It also offers an opportunity to connect with others who are either sober or supportive of your lifestyle, strengthening your network of support.


Stay Connected with Support Networks

Staying connected with your support network is really important, especially during times when you feel the urge to withdraw. It’s natural to want to retreat and deal with challenges alone, but isolation can often exacerbate feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. Your support network, whether it comprises a sponsor, support group, therapist, or close friends and family members, serves as a vital resource for encouragement, advice, and understanding.

Check-ins with these support figures can provide you with a sense of belonging and reassurance. They offer a safe space where you can express your feelings, share your struggles, and seek guidance. Remember, these individuals are part of your life because they care about your well-being and are often willing to help you navigate difficult times.

Plus, engaging with your support network helps to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine. It reminds you that you’re not alone in your journey. These connections can also provide different perspectives and coping strategies that you might have yet to consider. By staying in touch with your support network, you foster an environment of mutual support where you can grow and heal together.


Feeling Worried About Christmas in Recovery? Reach Out for Help Today

Remember, maintaining sobriety during the festive period is a significant achievement, and it’s essential to acknowledge and celebrate your resilience and strength in doing so.

If you’re feeling worried about the possibility of relapsing or have already done so, get in touch today. Our team can help you get back on the right track so that you can continue on the road to recovery.

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John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 1, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.