Looking Ahead To A Sober New Year

Now that we’ve had a Merry Christmas, let’s look ahead to the start of a sober New Year: the last day of this year and the first few hours of 2013.  Back in The Day, we used to call New Year’s Eve “Amateur Night.” Be that as it may, there is no question that December 31st and the early hours of the following year are the premier venues for chemically-enhanced “fun.”

Traditionally, on New Year’s Eve the rules are loosened up a bit and behavior that would be looked at askance (at best) on other occasions is tolerated and even encouraged. That being the case, it’s a minefield for people in recovery, especially newcomers. So we here at Sunrise Detox thought we’d share some of the strategies that have helped us have a sober new year, year after year.

First of all, we heartily recommend the alkathons that are held at recovery clubs, meeting halls and some treatment centers. These are usually a string of meetings throughout the day — often for 24 hours — on occasions deemed especially hazardous to us recovering folks. Not infrequently they include a dinner at some point, but they always include fellowship and the assurance that it’s really possible to have fun on holidays with our brain chemistry intact. NA has similar meeting marathons, and perhaps other fellowships do as well. These are almost always open meetings, and addicts of all stripes are welcome.

We don’t recommend private or public celebrations outside the rooms for the first couple of years at least, but if we feel we must expose ourselves to temptation, there are a few safeguards that we must not bypass:

  1. Always go to a meeting first, or plan on one afterward — and keep the commitment.
  2. Always take another sober person along to share the merriment. (It's more fun watching drunks when you have a sober companion.)
  3. Always make provision for your own transportation. If you’re riding with someone, have enough money for cab fare if needed. One of you might not make it through the night.
  4. Arrive late and leave early.
  5. Always have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. It keeps well-meaning revelers from pestering you to let them get you a drink.
  6. Always prepare your own drinks, or watch closely as they are prepared.  Even if you say you aren't drinking, some well-meaning bartender or friend may decide you need  a snort to loosen you up.  You don't know how you would react to a mouthful of alcohol.  Don't take the chance.
  7. Always watch your drink. Never set it down and turn your back. You might confuse it with someone else’s when you reach for it, or someone may have added a little surprise. Pocket flasks, roofies and other equipment are not uncommon on New Year’s Eve.
  8. If you do accidentally take a swallow of booze, or think you may have ingested a drug, leave immediately!!!  Alcohol and other drugs make us stupid.  You need to get to a place where your have fewer harmful decisions to make.
  9. Always have an agreement with your sober companion that if either party is uncomfortable both will leave immediately. You are there to support each other, not to hang out until someone finds a hookup.
  10. Always stick together unless someone relapses. If that happens, the sober person needs to get out of Dodge. It’s not your job to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. You’re not that powerful. If you were able to keep someone else from drinking or drugging, your buddy wouldn’t have relapsed. It’s not your responsibility. Get to a safe place and call someone in the program.
  11. Mind your own business!  Don't lecture others about their drinking.  It wastes your time, and it annoys the drinker.  Be an example, not a pain in the butt.
  12. Don’t forget the meeting afterward, even it it’s just a couple of drunks or druggies in a coffee shop. It’s the best way to keep our primary purpose in mind.

With a little planning, it’s possible to have a safe, happy and sober New Year. Don’t let some silly nostalgic idea that you have to be messed up to have fun cause you to blow it. Trust us — it won’t be fun when you wake up in 2013.

If you do wake up.

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