The party atmosphere on New Year’s Eve comes from bidding the past year goodbye, while looking forward to the adventures of the next year to come. For a person in recovery, that past year may have consisted of struggles with substance abuse and addiction. After battling those habits to get where you are now, you certainly wouldn’t want to start the new year off with another round. The following are some perspectives to take – and suggestions to apply – toward making the most of this festive occasion, while making sure to maintain the sobriety that you have worked so hard to gain.
Give the Night New Meaning
In many cultures, the traditions included in a New Year’s Eve party are related to the type of good fortune that is hoped for in the coming months. Foods that represent wealth and prosperity are brought to the table, setting the tone for an upcoming year of financial success. New Year’s resolutions have their origin in making the events of the evening relate to the future, as they originally were designed to be promises – made to the gods – that could be exchanged for divine favor. In celebrations other than our own, the focus of the event is on ensuring that things are set in place for a successful transition into the next season.
How these forward-looking traditions of the new year got replaced, within our culture, by flashing lights, glittery sequins, and drinking to excess is hard to pinpoint. It is possible, however, to return to the original intent of the celebration within your own space. Rather than viewing the night as a time to set loose, use this time to carefully consider how you are going to play a part in crafting the outcomes of your next year. While bartering with the gods may not be effective, spending your new year’s eve on figuring out how to reach your goals is a good way to start.
Surround Yourself With Sober Friends
As many of us know from our own adolescent years, giving into the temptation to do something we ought not to do becomes much easier when our friends are doing it, too. Peer pressure may change forms, once we have reached adulthood, but social environment still plays a role in how we decide to behave. When out for a night of socializing, it can be difficult to remember that what appears manageable for another person to do may not be a good idea for ourselves. If our friends are all having a good time with alcohol, it can be hard to sit there with a soda.
If you have been plugged into a recovery program for any length of time, chances are good that you have already developed a sober social network. Check in with your support groups, and see what type of gatherings these fellow travelers are planning for the night. If there doesn’t seem to be anything going on, take initiative and plan out the get-together, yourself. A night of rational discussion, accurate perceptions, and sober party games can be much more satisfying than participating in the sloppy bar scene.
Focus on Family
If you are blessed to have loved ones around you at this time, spending the evening in appreciation of them is an excellent end of year undertaking. For a person in recovery, the individuals who are closest to us play a massive role in supporting that resolve. Rather than seeking to end your year with a bang, spend the last day of the year focused on the peace and joy that having your own family can bring. The winter months make it a great time to snuggle up with some hot cocoa, a fireplace, and a good movie. If you have the means, take the family out for a celebration dinner. In addition to feeling good the next day about how you have spent your time, you will also be setting an example of how the holiday should be celebrated by the younger generations whom are observing you.
Have A Backup Plan
If none of these suggestions work with your ideas for the holiday, at least make sure you have a backup plan for maintaining your sobriety. You may feel obligated to attend a party or two, or may even feel as though you will be missing out to not join in with the celebrations. Rather than disappointing others or feeling deprived by staying home, be smart in how you go about attending the festivities.
Prefacing the fact that you plan to leave the party early is one way of ensuring a graceful exit. You can make it clearly known, ahead of time, that you will only be staying an hour or two. While there still may be some cajoling or complaints as you leave, the fact that it was already made clear will make your escape easier. What reasons you give for your departure are entirely up to you.
For many, the best plan for being able to avoid substances at a party is by being open about the fact that you are in recovery. If the friends at the party are good ones, they will not want to put any stumbling blocks in your way, and will support you by not offering you drinks or by making sure that your departure is a smooth one. If your friends or family are not the type to support you in your recovery in such a way, you might want to think twice about spending your holidays around them.
For those who are not ready to admit to friends or family that there is a problem with substance abuse or addiction, bringing your own beverages can be a way to minimize questions and ridicule. Once a non-alcoholic beer is poured into a cup, there is really little way for someone to notice and point it out. Many bars are now offering non-alcoholic drink choices, as well, with some of them looking – and even tasting – rather convincing.