Navigating the Holidays Without Alcohol



'Tis the season to be merry! Delicious desserts, treats, and Mariah Carey seem to be everywhere you go. It’s also getting dark earlier each day, parties are starting to return, family gatherings can get interesting, and well, they can be full of stress. For those navigating an alcohol-free life, it might not be the easiest (or most comfortable) time of the year. Here are a few tips I have found to be helpful on my journey:



Just kidding, that’s a Ted Lasso reference. Highly recommend it. In the show, it’s a code word for someone to tell the truth. Before heading out to a party where alcohol will be served, Oklahoma yourself. Do you really feel comfortable being around alcohol? Will some of your old drinking buddies be there? Is this a crowd who supports you on your journey? Put yourself first – there will always be another party and, if today isn’t your day, there is a pretty good chance the next one will be better.



It never hurts to bring a friend with you. They can serve as additional support and to liven things up if the party happens to be a dud! Have a look or word that you both know to mean things aren’t looking so great and maybe it’s time to skedaddle.



That’s right, bring your own alcohol-free beverage.


This is pivotal for a few reasons, the first being that it’s never good to show up empty-handed and secondly, this eliminates the possibility of there not being any good options for you. Third, sometimes people don’t understand the AF life and that’s because they think there aren’t many options besides juice and club soda.


This is a great time to showcase all the delicious options on the market which seem to be multiplying by the day. Last, you might make someone’s day by bringing an AF drink and make an AF friend.



Ask what’s in a drink before you try it. If you take a sip of a drink and realize it is not zero-proof, don’t panic. Put the drink down, be kind to yourself, and find something you can drink. It doesn’t mean you have to restart anything. Just keep on keeping on.



Rum balls, cherry cordials, and tiramisu all have alcohol in them that isn’t cooked out. Ask what’s in something and do a smell test. When in doubt, try a different option.



If you know things will most likely get rowdy as the night/day goes on, have a time that you “need” to leave by. You don’t need to have an excuse lined up, just that you need to leave. If people try to talk you into anything, remember that “no” is a complete sentence. Sometimes making a joke helps lighten things up.



Well, not really. Try using the sandwich technique, and call a friend before and after the gathering. This can help you stay accountable! Speaking of sandwiches, don’t go hungry because a well-fed brain makes prioritizing yourself easier.



It’s easy to think that people have opinions about your drinking and your mind might get carried away. From my experience, most people are either doing the same thing in their mind or have simply moved passed it. It doesn’t define you so don’t let it!



For some, this is not an easy journey by any means, but it’s worth it. I promise. Be kind to yourself. You can do this. If you find yourself struggling, please reach out for help. You are not alone.



If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, reach out to a PreventEd counselor today. They are ready to answer your questions and guide you to the help you need.


Learn more at www.PreventEd.org/ContactACounselor