😔😲😢 This article was co-authored by Lauren Urban, LCSW. Lauren Urban is a licensed psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York, with over 13 years of therapy experience working with children, families, couples, and individuals. She received her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College in 2006, and specializes in working with the LGBTQIA community and with clients in recovery or considering recovery for drug and alcohol use.
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😔😲😢 Did you go on a bender last NYE that had catastrophic consequences like humiliating yourself or getting arrested? Or, maybe you are choosing to abstain because you are in recovery, have certain religious beliefs, or have a medical condition that prevents you from drinking. Whatever your reasons, staying sober on New Year’s Eve is a bold decision. Loads of revelers hit the streets, restaurants, bars, and pubs to ring in the new year—and drinking alcohol is a big part of the festivities. However, you can stay sober and enjoy your NYE celebration by developing a game plan early on, coming up with fun alternatives to alcohol, and making healthier decisions.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Getting a Plan Together
- 1Choose to stay in. If you’d much rather avoid drunken conversations and being the one to usher stumbling friends to safety, you could opt to spend the evening at home. However, being at home doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the excitement. There are tons of ways to plan a fun night with a group of friends who also choose to avoid alcohol.
- Consider organizing a goal-setting or vision board party where you and a group of close pals set your intentions for the following year. Binge-watch some favorite TV shows or have a movie marathon. Snuggle up with your significant other by the fireplace. Coordinate a game night or poker night. The possibilities are endless!
- 2Visit a new place on NYE. Are you itching to trot the globe in the new year? Start early and tick off an interesting new location to bring in the new year. In a foreign locale, you won’t completely have your bearings about where everything is located, so you are less likely to have the urge to get intoxicated.
- Book a hotel in a neighboring city or dust off your passport and fly to another country to celebrate.XResearch source
- 3Decline invites in which alcohol is the main focus. Wine tastings, cocktail parties and other alcohol-centered gatherings in bars may be fun, but it’s so much harder to stick to your vow in these settings. If a friend or coworker extends an invitation, politely decline.XResearch source
- You might say, "I have other plans," or "I don’t plan on drinking this NYE. Thanks for the invite, though."
- 4Prepare a response when offered alcohol. Ease your own tension and prevent awkwardness by planning what you’ll say if offered a drink. A simple "No thanks, I have something," could work if you already have a non-alcoholic beverage in hand. Raise your hand to indicate your fake booze and keep partying.
- Even better: tell people in advance. Breaking the ice before you’re put in a tempting situation sends the message that you already have clear intentions of staying sober. That way if you’re asked, you can simply remind them, "Remember, I told you I’m staying sober this year!"XResearch source
- 5Plan to work on New Year’s Day. The temptation to imbibe lessens when you know you have to hit the time clock in the morning. If it’s possible for you to work on the first day of the new year, sign up. This gives you an automatic excuse to decline drinks—and duck out of celebrations early, if you’re so inclined.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Preventing Relapse
- 1Go to a meeting beforehand. If you regularly attend self-help groups with others who are recovering from problem-drinking, it might help to go to several meetings during the week prior to NYE. You can also attend a meeting on New Year’s Day to help ward off any triggers you might have experienced the night before. If you don’t usually attend meetings, or will be out of town, look up an Alcoholics Anonymous groups near you.XExpert SourceLauren Urban, LCSW
Licensed PsychotherapistExpert Interview. 3 September 2018.
- Getting a healthy dose of recovery material and encouragement could help you fight urges that arise during end-of-the-year gatherings.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, directly address the issues you have with New Year’s Eve in the meeting so that the group can support you.
- 2Find a sober buddy. One of the most guaranteed ways to stay sober on New Year’s Eve is by bringing in reinforcements. Know of a friend who doesn’t drink or has had a successful and well-established recovery? Ask them to accompany you at the festivities, or at the very least, to call you and check in as specified times.XResearch source
- "Hey, Paul, you have been such an inspiration during my recovery. Ten years of sobriety is such an accomplishment! If you’re free, would you like to join me at an event on New Year’s Eve? I could use some support." More than likely, your acquaintance will be happy to assist you.
- 3Leave immediately, if you feel compromised. If at any point during this celebratory evening you start to feel pressured or uncomfortable, make your exit. For this reason, it might be better to drive yourself or arrange another form of independent transportation so you don’t have to rely on someone else to be able to leave. It’s better to risk being slightly rude to friends and having to explain later than jeopardizing your recovery.XResearch source
- Let’s say someone keeps bugging you about drinking, you learn that people are spiking others’ drinks, or any other compromising behavior is taking place. Get out right away.
- You can tell the host "The environment is too risky for my sobriety, so I’m leaving," or you can simply find the nearest exit. Better safe than sorry.
- 4Know how to seek help, if you do relapse. If you mess up and have a drink, try not to panic. Beating yourself up can lead to you becoming depressed, and further complicate your recovery.XExpert SourceLauren Urban, LCSW
Licensed PsychotherapistExpert Interview. 3 September 2018. Instead, contact your self-help group sponsor, sober buddy, or counselor for help.XResearch source Keep in mind that this is when many people tend to avoid their support team. However, if they are doing their job right, then they will be supportive and not nasty to you.
- Say, "Hi, Dr. Tracy, I went out on New Year’s Eve and got drunk. I’ve ruined my recovery! I need to come in as soon as possible."
- In addition to seeking professional guidance, it is also necessary to be honest with yourself to assess what happened. Did you have trouble resisting peer pressure? Did you hang out with bad influences? Answering these questions will help you prevent relapse next time.
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Finding Alternatives
- 1Mix up a "mocktail." Staying away from alcohol doesn’t mean you have to stick with a boring drink. There are a range of non-alcoholic cocktails that are just as fun, but don’t come with guilt or headaches the following morning. Try non-alcoholic beer, cider, eggnog, or have a serve mix up just about any cocktail without liquor.XResearch source
- You can even research some fancy mocktails that will make you feel like you are a part of the party. Bring the ingredients with you so that you can mix them up yourself.
- 2Toast with sparkling grape juice. Bottles of faux champagne are easy to find during this time of year for people who don’t drink alcohol. Pick up a bottle on the way to your gathering. That way, you won’t feel so left out during the champagne toast when the clock strikes twelve.
- 3Bring along some soda. If you’re not sure if the host will have any alcohol-free drinks handy, bring your own choice of beverage with you. Fancy fountain sodas or regular diet Coke both give you something to sip on while swaying anyone from asking, "Can I get you a drink?"XResearch source
- 4Indulge your sweet tooth. Most types of alcohol contain sugar, so you could reduce any cravings by eating something sweet. If the NYE party you’re attending doesn’t have any cakes or cookies, provide them to ensure they’re available. Satisfying your sweet tooth could help you ease any thoughts of reaching for a glass.
- Just be sure not to overdo it. It’s easy to trade one addiction for another. Enjoy sweets in moderation to minimize your risk of picking up a new habit.
- QuestionWhat should I do if I relapse on New Year's Eve as a recovering alcoholic?Lauren Urban, LCSWLauren Urban is a licensed psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York, with over 13 years of therapy experience working with children, families, couples, and individuals. She received her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College in 2006, and specializes in working with the LGBTQIA community and with clients in recovery or considering recovery for drug and alcohol use.
Licensed PsychotherapistLicensed PsychotherapistExpert AnswerFirst, recognize that most addicts relapse at least once, so it's not like something inconceivable has occurred. It's also really important to not beat yourself up over it, since getting down about your relapse may trigger you to start drinking again. Just reach out to your sponsor, counselor, or support group and let them know what happened so you can get back into recovery.
- QuestionCan I attend an AA meeting on vacation?Lauren Urban, LCSWLauren Urban is a licensed psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York, with over 13 years of therapy experience working with children, families, couples, and individuals. She received her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College in 2006, and specializes in working with the LGBTQIA community and with clients in recovery or considering recovery for drug and alcohol use.
Licensed PsychotherapistLicensed PsychotherapistExpert AnswerGenerally, yes. Look up open meetings near you, and you should be able to find one. Don't be afraid to go to a meeting in a new location if you're out of town on New Year's Eve.
- ↑Lauren Urban, LCSW. Licensed Psychotherapist. Expert Interview. 3 September 2018.
- ↑Lauren Urban, LCSW. Licensed Psychotherapist. Expert Interview. 3 September 2018.