No matter where you are in your recovery, you can’t help but think about the way your life has changed when the New Year holiday is just days away. This is a time to leave the past behind, learn from your experiences and graciously welcome a new year of happiness and health.
If you’re a newly recovering addict, you are probably still experiencing a lot of self doubt about the future. And it’s understandable why. The future is vague and there are no guarantees. Feeling like you don’t have control makes things even scarier. You may also be feeling angry that you’ve had to give up your past freedoms and friends to get sober. Again, this is normal.
As you celebrate the New Year, be sure to look at the growth you’ve made over the past year. Try not to dwell on the things that you’ve had to give up or the mistakes that you made. Now is a wonderful time to wipe the slate clean and work on improving your relationships and finding your purpose in life. But before you start working on these goals, we have a few fun ways to ring in the New Year – sober.
Prepare a Spread
One of the things that everyone loves about New Year’s is the delicious appetizers that are served. Make your own spread for the holidays with seafood, deli meats and cheeses or crackers and cheeses. Or try something different such as a waffle bar, omelet bar or dessert table. You’ll have fun planning the menu, doing the shopping and preparing the food. Doing this will make you feel like a part of the holiday as well.
Serve Fancy Drinks
Drinks are another staple of the holiday, but they don’t have to contain alcohol to taste good. Look up recipes online for non-alcohol drinks – there are plenty! You’ll enjoy making various punches, ciders and champagnes, and they can be served in champagne flutes and other fancy glasses. Again, this makes you feel like a part of the festivities rather than excluded from them. Plus, it takes the awkwardness out of serving just water and soda.
Focus on the Kids
If you have kids or are close to friends with kids, use them as an opportunity to throw a booze-free party. It’s not responsible to drink heavily around children, and parents always approve of going to places where alcohol won’t be the focus. Plus, being around kids is a good distraction that will take the pressure off not being able to drink. Think of activities you can offer such as making gingerbread houses, going on a scavenger hunt or having a dance party.
If you think that staying home and watching people party on TV will be too much for you, then get out of the house and celebrate the New Year. A cross country skiing trip is a great example of something you can do with a group of friends. People typically don’t like to drink before exercising, so you won’t disappoint your friends. Keeping busy also gets your mind off drinking and partying. Other constructive activities include sledding, camping, hiking, ice fishing, snow tubing and snowboarding.
Plan a Cruise
SoberCruises.com offers cruises for people in 12-step programs. They are offering an Annual New Year’s Cruise from January 17-24, 2015. If you miss this year, plan for next year! This gives you something to look forward to while rewarding your successes in recovery. Plus, you don’t have to worry about finding a sober friend to bring along as the entire cruise will include people just like you!
As you venture out further in your recovery, you’ll see that some of the most rewarding feelings come from helping others. If you are struggling to enjoy the holidays without thinking of alcohol or drugs, you must do something constructive to fill your time. Don’t sit home feeling frustrated. Offer to shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter. Sit with an elderly person for the evening. Offer to babysit for free. Not only will this keep you busy, but it puts you in the position of responsibility.
As you approach New Year’s, remember the very things that this holiday stands for: celebrating the joys of the past year, moving on from past grievances and planning for a brighter future. Don’t get caught up in the hype of the parties and drinking. Far too many people find themselves in trouble with drinking and driving, fights at bars or saying/doing things they regret because of the atmosphere. And just imagine how bad you used to feel waking up the next day!
Most importantly, do not exclude yourself from the celebration. You are trying your best to find a new normal in your life, and it’s important to enjoy these normal festivities. Sure, there are readjustments to make on your part, but hopefully you are starting to see that fun comes in many forms.
Photo Credit: Shondra Hull