New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the past and welcome the future. While you may be gearing up to have a good time with your loved ones, this time of year can be challenging if you’re committed to not drinking. As this holiday is synonymous with popping champagne and giving boozy toasts, it can be difficult to navigate the night as a sober person.
Staying Alcohol-Free on New Year’s Eve
Celebrating the beginning of a new year alcohol-free can seem a daunting task. Whether you’re avoiding alcohol for health reasons or because you’re in recovery, it can seem impossible to participate in a holiday that is so centered around alcohol. But don’t let this stop you from having a good time. Here are a few strategies to help you can use to have an enjoyable New Year’s Eve (and all other holidays) while sober.
Decide if you should tell others beforehand
If you’re attending a New Year’s Eve party, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will offer you a drink. If you’d rather avoid as many awkward interactions and interrogations as possible, consider telling your friends and family that you won’t be drinking beforehand. Send a quick text or make a phone call to share that you won’t be drinking.
If you want to keep things quiet and not raise anyone’s concerns, simply avoid alcohol during the event. Instead, grab a fizzy drink from the bar so no one notices that you’re not drinking. Similarly, you can ask the bartender for a virgin version of your favorite drink.
If you’d rather not jump through hoops and you don’t care what others think, you can always simply decline any drink offers. However, be prepared to answer a few “why aren’t you drinking?” questions.
Decide what drinks you will have in advance
While you are certain that you’re not going to be drinking now, on the night in question, there will be a lot of pressure to drink. Help cut through some of the stress by already having a clear idea of what you will be drinking. Whether it’s water, soda, or fruit juice, having this detail planned in advance will ensure that you stay sober during New Year’s Eve.
It’s helpful to have a variety of non-alcoholic alternatives in mind, as you may be celebrating for several hours. If all else fails, be sure to have a bottle of water handy to ensure that you stay hydrated.
Let your friends know that you aren’t judging them for drinking
It’s likely that you’ve already experienced the stigma of not drinking. Once you tell people that you aren’t drinking, they get a little tense and immediately demand a reason for your alcoholic abstinence. While this line of questioning is particularly off-putting for you, they often find your sobriety to be off-putting as well.
While most of your friends and family don’t mean to respond defensively, it is often their immediate reaction when they learn that you aren’t drinking. This is due to years of social conditioning surrounding alcohol consumption. While you don’t have to reassure anyone that you aren’t being judgmental, it will help put your loved ones at ease.
Friends and family already fear they will be judged for their actions by someone that isn’t drinking. Let your friends know that you’ve made a personal decision to be sober and are there to have fun and celebrate New Year’s Eve. Reassure them that you don’t care if they drink and that you want them to have fun too.
Remind yourself why you don’t want to drink
Temptation will be abound on New Year’s Eve, so it’s best to have a constant reminder of why you aren’t drinking. Even if you are comfortable in your sobriety or are in recovery, you may find yourself reminiscing about the days when you used to drink. For this reason, it’s helpful to constantly remind yourself why you’re abstaining.
Have your reasons for not drinking somewhere you can see them. Write them on your phone or perhaps keep them on paper in your pocket. Whenever you feel uncomfortable, take a look at your list to encourage yourself not to drink.
Show up to house parties prepared
You can attempt to help out your host by sending over a few mocktail recipes but sometimes, hosts at house parties still fail to take their non-drinking guests into consideration. Instead of being faced with nothing but champagne and pre-mixed cocktails, supply your own non-alcoholic drink options. If you don’t have anything with you, don’t be afraid to ask for water.
Don’t feel obligated to drink anything
Depending on where you are spending your New Year’s Eve, someone may end up buying you a drink. While you may feel bad turning them down, remember that you are in no way obligated to drink it. Simply smile, say “thank you”, and leave the drink in their hands.
Sometimes, a person that has paid for a drink may come across as pushy or aggressive. If this is the case, leave immediately or notify security or someone you trust.
Your sobriety and recovery come first. Remember that. Don’t let others’ actions put a damper on your New Year’s Eve celebrations. Keep this relapse prevention guide in mind to help you enjoy the holiday alcohol-free.