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Why Holiday Parties & Detox Don’t Mix Well

blurry holiday party in background with close-up of Christmas tree

The holiday season is one that most people associate with spending time with friends and festive parties. Picking up a glass of mulled wine or spiked eggnog is a commonplace occurrence at such celebrations, which can be a serious problem for some. If you are going through a drug or alcohol recovery program or a detox program during the holidays, then finding yourself in the middle of a holiday party can be problematic for several reasons.

Problems with Detox Mixing with Holiday Parties

It is probably no secret that going through a detox program can wear down on you in multiple ways. As addictive substances leave your body, you will inevitably feel some symptoms of withdrawal, many of which manifest in physical, mental, and emotional forms. To try to stave off those symptoms, you can feel tempted to reuse the substance you are trying to kick. This temptation is what can make attending a holiday party so problematic for someone in detox or recovery.

On-Sight Temptations

Simply walking into a holiday party can expose you to on-sight temptations that could put your steady recovery in jeopardy. As you move throughout the party, you are likely to encounter alcoholic beverages of different types and in all different locations. Guests will probably each be holding one in every room. In the kitchen and living room, there will also likely be the sources of those alcoholic beverages, like bottles, punch bowls, or even a drink bar. As someone who is trying your best to stay away from alcohol, all of those sights should be avoided, too.

Before you attend a holiday party that will serve alcoholic beverages, you can talk to the host about spaces you might be able to use to distance yourself from those temptations. For example, the host might establish the back porch as a no-drink zone for people who want to stay sober at the party. If the host does not want to accommodate you, then that might not be a holiday party you will want to attend, anyway.

Peer Pressure

The sight of alcoholic beverages around a holiday party will probably not be the only external source of temptations, though. Even if you attend a party with close and trusted friends, there is a good chance that at least one person there will apply peer pressure to try to make you drink.

Peer pressure can take many forms. We all can recognize peer pressure when it is applied aggressively, such as someone forcing a drink into your hands and telling you to drink to show your strength. But peer pressure in groups of friends usually appears in much more subtle forms, so subtle that the person applying the peer pressure doesn’t even realize they are doing something wrong. For example, you might have an attentive friend at the party who notices you are not drinking but they do not know that you are going through an alcohol recovery or detox program. Thinking that you are being excluded from the festivities, they might keep asking you if you would like a drink, which can become more and more tempting each time.

To discourage people from intentionally or inadvertently peer pressuring you to drink at a holiday party, it might be necessary to let people know that you are staying sober for your particular reason. You should also avoid parties with people you do not know because they will know less about you and care less about why you want to stay sober. Again, friends who you should celebrate the holidays with will respect your decision and actually ensure others do not try to peer pressure you as well.

Holiday Habits

Although there will likely be two strong external temptations to drink at a holiday party due to on-sight temptations and peer pressure, you will still need to contend with internal temptations. Just entering a holiday party might trigger a subconscious desire to grab a drink because that is what you normally did in the past. Your holiday habits can come back to haunt you like the ghosts of holidays past visiting Ebenezer Scrooge if you are not mindful of what you plan to do once you arrive at a party.

Keeping your old holiday party habits at bay can require making new ones. Rather than going to the same spot to celebrate as you always have, go somewhere new with your friends. Choose a different night to celebrate as well. Maybe introduce new games like a gift exchange with your friends and family that you have never tried before.

Establishing a new routine and setting for a holiday party can be an effective way to break habits without you even needing to tell people why you want to change things up. You can just say you had a fun holiday idea that you think would be worth trying this year. There is no shame in fighting alcohol addiction, but it is entirely understandable if you would rather keep things mostly to yourself.

Hosting the Holidays Yourself

When the possible temptations to drink or use a recreational drug at someone else’s holiday party are too great to risk, it might be time to host the party yourself. Consider hosting the party in your own home and inviting close friends you can trust to not bring any alcohol of their own. By becoming the host and choosing the venue, you can ensure that there will be no tempting substances anywhere on the premises. Sometimes all it takes to remain sober is to not have the option to make a hasty decision.

From our team at Freedom Detox in Charlotte, North Carolina, we hope you have a safe and festive holiday free from the stress and temptations that can sometimes come with the season. If you ever need someone to talk to about starting a drug or alcohol detox program, or you think a loved one needs help, please call us at (877) 207-8882 or contact us online.

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