According to a 2011 feature in TIME magazine, New Year’s Eve ranks number one in the list of the “booziest” holidays of the year. It is the holiday when people consume the most alcohol, and is also one of the holidays with the highest rates of drunk driving accidents on the calendar. Even those who avoid injury in a DUI crash are at risk of being pulled over and arrested for drinking and driving. In addition to the high rates of alcohol consumption, many people use drugs during their New Year’s Eve celebrations. Whether you are working to maintain your sobriety after quitting drugs or alcohol, or if you are trying to help a friend or family member avoid substance abuse on the coming holiday, here are some tips that you can use to achieve a drug and alcohol free New Year this year:
- Remember that it’s not all about getting drunk or high
It’s too easy to think of New Year’s Eve as one big drunk fest, a party holiday when the goal is to get as drunk or high as possible and do things you wouldn’t normally do. It doesn’t have to be this way! You can enjoy New Year’s Eve while sober, celebrating everything you have done this past year and looking forward to the coming year with your friends and family.
- Go with a buddy
If you are going to a party where alcohol will be served or drugs will be available, find someone you trust and go with that person. This should be someone who knows about your intention to remain sober, who is supportive of that intention, and who you can trust to help you make the right decisions.
- Have an emergency plan
Realize that if you are going to a New Year’s Eve party, you may find yourself in a difficult situation. You might be surrounded by friends and acquaintances who are drinking or using drugs and feel pressured to join in. Someone might offer you a drink or a hit. What will you do then? How can you say “No” without feeling awkward? Unless you’re comfortable saying “No,” you should have some type of excuse that you can use to turn down the offer or even to leave the party if you’re feeling too much pressure.
- Choose a party where drugs or alcohol won’t be the focus
It may seem like you can’t go to a New Year’s Eve party without being surrounded by drunk people, but this simply isn’t the case. Most people know at least one person who is going to a party where drinking isn’t the main event, and if you ask around you can probably find a party like this.
- Celebrate with sober friends
You probably know someone, or perhaps even many people, who aren’t all that interested in drugs or alcohol. Maybe they’re having their own party, or maybe you can go with them to another party. Even at parties where some people are getting drunk or high, there are usually other people at the same venue who are staying sober but having at least as much fun, or maybe even more. Spend your time with these people!
- Take care of yourself
The holiday season is the favorite time of year for many people, but it is also the most stressful time of year for just as many people. It’s easy to push yourself too hard, to set expectations too high and to allow yourself to be spread too thin. The final result of all this stress could be you deciding to cut loose and get drunk or high. No matter how much you may feel obligated to show up to every party or try to make the holidays perfect for everyone, remember to set limits and take care of yourself, so that you don’t end up burning yourself out.
- Don’t set yourself for failure
It’s too easy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe you have decided to spend New Year’s Eve sober and to stay away from drugs and alcohol entirely. What happens if you do take a drink or a hit? Too often, someone in this situation decides that he or she has failed, gives up and goes off the deep end drinking or using drugs. It’s good to have the goal of staying sober, but don’t go into the holiday with unrealistic expectations. If you do make a mistake, be willing to forgive yourself and start over; it’s better to have one drink and then stay sober than to give up on the goal of sobriety after having a moment of weakness.
- Eat a healthy diet
The holiday season is a time when people usually over-indulge in sweets, eat too much and generally consume a poor diet. When you eat this way, you tend to feel bad, and this stress can lead to wanting to have a drink or get high to “take the edge off.” If you maintain a healthy diet and eat in moderation in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, you will have a more solid foundation from which to work on your goal of staying sober.
- Set up a reward for staying sober
One thing you can do to increase the likelihood that you will make it through New Year’s Eve sober is to arrange some type of reward for yourself. Maybe it’s a purchase of some item you’ve been wanting, or perhaps it’s being able to have New Year’s brunch at your favorite restaurant. Alternatively, the reward could be being relieved from something unpleasant, such as if your spouse agrees to do the dishes for a week if you manage to stay sober. Whatever it may be, find something that will motivate you to stick to your decision to avoid drinking or using drugs on New Year’s Eve.
- Get started early on your New Year’s resolution
If you have been struggling with substance abuse or have recently quit in an effort to overcome your addiction, you probably have a New Year’s resolution along the lines of, “I will stay sober for the entire year in 2014.” Why wait until January first to get started on this? Begin applying your resolution on New Year’s Eve. That way, you won’t have to start off your 2014 with a hangover, and when you reach the end of the year, you can be that much more proud of yourself for having started out the year on the right foot.