If you have recovered from a drug or alcohol addiction, the thought that New Year’s Eve celebrations are waiting right around the corner might be a source of unwelcome dread or anxiety for you.
However, there are a few ways that you can still ring in this new chapter of your life without isolating yourself or putting yourself into dangerous situations.
Don’t Plan to Spend the Night Alone
While there is a time and place for this, if you are not used to celebrating New Year’s alone or on your own, your first time experiencing it sober is most likely not the best time to try it out. This does not mean that you can only celebrate with a few people or that you must tell everyone at your work party your personal details, but you should be intentional about the company you on a holiday that is notorious for partying and drinking.
Turn to Your Support System
Surround yourself with your support group as you ring in the New Year. This should be the case regardless of your goal to stay sober, but it is especially important that at least a few of the people that you are celebrating with are aware of your recovery journey and are committed to holding you accountable.
Some ideas of what this support group could look like:
- Go to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by a recovery support group like the St. Louis Alcoholics Anonymous St. Louis’ New Beginnings of Sober Unity 2019. Their event includes a pot-luck, AA speakers, dancing, and they close 2018 and start 2019 with a meeting! (You should also check out your local AA’s calendar of events regularly!)
- Host an intimate, laid-back game-night or movie marathon with a few close friends or family members. This option provides a happy medium between being in control of your surroundings while still feeling comfortable enough to let loose. Additionally, more personal settings like these often lend themselves more easily to conversations that reflect on the past and that dream for the future.
- Attend or throw your own variation of a Dance Dance Party Party! This is a movement that was born out of a resistance to the ridiculous commercializing and hectic social pressures that surround the notion of celebrating New Year’s but its “No Boys. No Booze. No Judgement.” philosophy is one that fits well with someone wanting to have fun while staying sober.
Use this is as an opportunity to reconnect with or bless the people in your life who might also feel left out of what can feel “the expected way to celebrate New Year’s.” Maybe this looks like spending some quality time with your parents or grandparents, offering to babysit for your sibling or friend, or volunteering to visit a retirement home. Completing acts of service during times that you know could become unhealthy situations is a very effective and fulfilling way to squash those cravings and put yourself into perspective.
Everybody’s recovery journey and list of potentially triggering scenarios will be unique to them, so what might be fine for one person could be unwise for another. If you feel confident enough in your sobriety to be around others drinking or to be in places where alcohol is served, then there are some more options for smart ways you can still celebrate.
(However, if you are not at that place in your journey, that is more than okay. Recovery is never a competition or a comparison, it is a lifelong commitment that reflects each person individually.)
If you feel comfortable and will still be surrounded by that support group, then here are a few more options of places where you could celebrate the New Year:
- Attend a concert or a show! These events often will have alcohol present, but unlike most places on New Year’s, the focus and the activity of the night will not be on the drinking but on enjoying beautiful music or becoming immersed into an entertaining show. Look into what will be playing near you and check out the venue’s website beforehand to see if alcohol is served on the premise. For example: Off Broadway in St. Louis will be hosting Sean Canan’s VooDoo Stevie Wonder on this year’s New Year’s Eve, and the St. Louis Symphony has had New Year’s Eve shows in the past.
- Get active! Staying sober should not exclude you from celebrating the wintery holidays’ magic. Check out local opportunities like ice skating and skiing!
When considering one of the latter options, remember that it is always okay to back-out of plans, to change your mind once you get there, or to leave early. What matters the most is your sobriety.
Finally, never underestimate the healing powers of self-care and some me-time. The ultimate purpose behind celebrating the New Year is to reflect on where the past 12 months have taken you, and to decide what you are going to do with these observations. How have you grown? Where do you wish you had grown? What could you do differently? What were the successes? How can you celebrate them in a way that is healthy and meaningful to you? What do you want the next 12 months to hold? What were the successes? How can you celebrate them in a way that is healthy and meaningful to you?