Having a Happy Holiday With Friends, Family, and Sobriety

The holidays are soon approaching. This is a time of year where many reconnect with friends and family to celebrate the holiday season’s joys. This is often a time of year for gatherings, parties, dinners, in-office gift exchanges and meeting friends out for a night on the town. If you are in recovery, you likely understand how difficult it can be to navigate these parties and gatherings. These gatherings are often filled with family and friends drinking alcohol and possibly even offering you a drink. Since you are among friends and family, it is sometimes hard to say no, and you must be prepared to handle such situations. 

Additionally, while some semblance of this might happen this year, this year also presents another challenge for many—isolation. Since the current pandemic is ongoing, you will likely have to utilize other alternatives to see friends and family. You might encounter some of the same pressures and triggers, but you will also have to overcome the obstacle of disconnect and possibly being alone. Cliffside Malibu wants to help by providing you ways to navigate and prepare for such obstacles so you can have a happy and sober holiday season. 

Know Your Limits

If you are in early recovery, it is good to do an honest self-assessment of yourself. This includes your mental and physical wellbeing. This way, you can ask yourself if you are prepared to handle a social occasion or celebration where alcohol and other substances like marijuana are present. The idea is to understand where you’re at in recovery and not put yourself in a situation you cannot handle. It is okay to decline invitations to such events.

Being upfront with friends and family about your concerns is one way to get them to understand where you’re coming form. This is about putting your recovery first; never feel pressured to go to a gathering or not go because you will disappoint a friend or family. The ones that love you will understand. 

Increase Support

The holiday season can bring about a great sense of busyness, which brings added stress to the season. Things like shopping, meeting or connecting with friends and family, and even decorating can become exhausting. Couple this with your everyday regimen, and you could feel burned out enough to consider having one drink or getting high. This is why it is essential to motivate yourself in ways that keep you accountable for your recovery. Engage with people who will listen, talk with you, and understand your stresses and anxieties of getting through the season. This may include a therapist or counselor, friends from support meetings, and other family and friends. These are better alternatives than trying to talk about your stresses with an aunt or uncle who has not seen you in a year. So, remember to nourish your recovery with positive and understanding people. Look to arrange meetings via Skype or Zoom, before and after these gatherings. Additionally, Cliffside Malibu operates 24/7, so there is never a wrong time to reach out for support

Utilize the Current Situation 

Cliffside Malibu considers that it might be unlikely that you get to interact with family and friends in-person as much (if at all) this holiday season. But if you do end up going to a function, we always recommend you bring your own drinks to a party. We also recommend driving yourself, so you do not have to rely on someone else to take you home. This way, you can leave on your own terms. However, this year, if you arrange a family gathering via Skype or Zoom, you can control the atmosphere. 

Just because you are celebrating online does not mean you cannot make it fun for yourself. Decorate and set a spread of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to celebrate. You can take comfort in knowing that nobody is going to offer you a drink or drug. This way, you can focus on celebrating with friends and family without distraction.


Isolation is among the top threats to your recovery this holiday season. Find ways to remove yourself from the trap of feeling alone. Perhaps you enjoy traveling to a family destination each year because it is tradition, but you cannot or don’t feel comfortable doing so due to ongoing conditions. First, understand that this situation is not your fault. You and the rest of the world are experiencing the pandemic together. Alternatively, you might be mourning the relationships that you wish you had during this time. Understand that, however uncomfortable it is to feel lonely it is OK to feel this way. Share how you feel with loved ones—they likely feel the same way. 

When you are feeling alone, try to rethink your expectations surrounding the holidays. Understand that this is a unique time, and it will take an extraordinary effort to get yourself through. Instead of viewing what you cannot do, like seeing your family and friends, or traveling, look at the opportunities you have. Have fun with the “new normal.” Plan fright nights during October, where you and others gather each Friday night to watch scary movies using Skype or Google Hangouts and Netflix. Or plan a 12 days of Christmas watch-along in December with the same streaming platforms. Make it a creative endeavor and think outside what’s conventional. You never need to feel alone. 

One way to work through lasting recovery is staying connected through meaningful relationships. When you feel disconnected or have fallen into the holiday blues funk, know that you are never alone. With 24/7 availability, Cliffside Malibu provides treatment to those who need it when they need it most. Sometimes all you need is to express yourself to a therapist to gain perspective on the matter. So, instead of stressing this holiday, make it a success and reach out to Cliffside Malibu to get started. Call (855) 403-5641 or visit.