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The Holidays: A Difficult Time for Those Facing Addiction

How do you feel about the holidays? Looking forward to the fun and festivities? Dreading budget-busting gift giving? Or maybe you are apprehensive about family dynamics. Even for those of us who love holidays, they can be stressful. That can be especially true for those struggling with addiction.

For those with substance use issues, holidays can be a trigger, leading to a relapse. That’s why it’s especially important to think and plan ahead. We know alcohol often plays a significant role in holiday celebrations. Before you head out the door, consider what you’ll say when asked if you want to have a drink. How should you respond? Some options include:

  • A simple “no, thank you.”
  • Or, say yes, but tell the person you’d like a glass of water, a soda or a cup of coffee.
  • Or you can say, “Thanks, I’ll pass. I have early morning plans.”

There’s no need to go into big explanations. In most cases, people will accept your answer at face value. If they press you on why you’re not drinking alcohol, you can always say you simply don’t want one and redirect the conversation to something else like the “great food” at the gathering.

Saying no is important but it’s just the start, particularly if you are on the path to recovery. It’s also important to understand your triggers and what strategies you’ll choose when confronted with one.

If you’re the one hosting a holiday celebration this year, consider all of your guests by:

  • Including non-alcoholic beverage options. Sparkling water with lemons, soda and coffee are good alternatives.
  • Having food available when serving beverages.
  • Don’t question someone’s choice to not drink alcohol.
  • Having someone act as a responsible, designated bartender. This helps prevent people from over-serving themselves.
  • If someone does over-indulge, provide a ride home.
  • Try to keep the conversations and mood light and positive. Steer clear of discussions about politics or family problems that may make people anxious or angry. If a disagreement crops up, change the subject!

Don’t forget, if the holidays get to be too much, we’re here to help. Oneida Behavioral Health is there for you. Simply reach out at (920) 490-3790 or visit

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