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Doing 'sober' during the festive season

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

The silly season is dubbed that for a reason. If you don’t prepare to stay sober throughout this period, you prepare to fail and slip back into active alcoholism.

The good news is, many of us at Ocean Hills Detox & Rehab in the Hawke's Bay have trodden this path before and know what the pitfalls are. Here are our 8 tried and true ways to help protect your sobriety during the festive season, and beyond.

  1. Listen to yourself: HALT (hungry, angry, lonely and tired) is a useful acronym to guide your decisions about prioritising your needs. If you’re hungry, eat; if you’re angry, do something positive about it; if you’re lonely, reach out for sober company and if you’re tired, rest.

  2. Prepare your ‘I don’t drink’ speech: It’s often tricky to deal with people who want to know why you’re not drinking. Work out what you want to say in advance, remembering that you don’t have to explain every little detail of your sobriety, or even discuss it at all. Something simple like, ‘I’m the sober driver’, or ‘I’m on a health kick’, ‘I’m taking it easy’ or ‘I’m working later’ can suffice. You may find some people are more persistent and won’t take a simple excuse for an answer, or insinuate you’re a party pooper. You don’t need to respond with anything other than a smile and politely ask for the non-alcoholic drink option.

  3. Remember your why: It’s common to feel confused and hazy when you’re faced with temptation. Before you head out to a function, remember what your top three reasons for getting/staying sober are (eg, I’m sick of blackouts, I don’t want any more hangovers, I want to keep my family/job) and write them down on a card to keep in your wallet. Read them before you get to the event and if you’re overwhelmed once you’re there, read them again in the bathroom to remind yourself why it’s important to stay sober.

  4. Don’t go it alone: Pair up with some positive company. If you’re with a friend, you can support each other to stick to your goal of staying sober.

  5. Make a back-up plan: If you find the situation becomes uncomfortable and too difficult navigate safely, it’s good to be able to remove yourself quickly and without fuss. Make sure you have a car or a way to leave without having to rely on someone else. Have an excuse at the ready to give before you make a quick exit.

  6. Ask for help: Have a few people you can text or call if you need a quick line of support. It can be a good idea to let someone know you may call on them before you go, so they can be available to chat if you need them.

  7. Leave early: The first hour of any festive function is usually the best with lots of nice food and people are still relatively sober. If you stay for a short period of time you can excuse yourself knowing that you’ve made an effort to join the party but keep yourself safe.

  8. Stay grateful: If you’re tempted to drink, remind yourself of all the good things about being sober, such as feeling clear-headed, healthier and stronger. Are those things worth losing?

Finally, don’t be embarrassed at prioritising your sobriety. Sober people do whatever it takes to put their wellbeing first.

Phone Elaine on 027 573 7744 for a confidential chat.

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