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Celebrate the New Year: Get Wild, Stay Sober

Why not say no to drugs and alcohol on New Year’s Eve? True, it’s just not what people expect to hear from you on the most widely celebrated holiday of the year. After all, New Year’s Eve is a time to party hearty, and some people really know how to throw a bash. The trouble is, the holidays are the most difficult time of the year for people who are working on recovery. So what are the best ways to stay sober on New Year’s?

The Old Tradition Versus the New

It’s simply tradition: As the holidays approach, people in general—including those who rarely if ever drink—let down their hair and tie one on. For someone who is struggling to maintain sobriety, the holidays can be rough, because people coax you to drink: “Oh, just have one, a little one won’t hurt, don’t spoil the fun!”

There’s a lot more to handle than just New Year’s Eve. You have to make your way through the entire holiday season, skirting wine glasses and brandy snifters all the way from Thanksgiving to January 1. New Year’s Eve is, however, the Big Bang: More people celebrate New Year’s than any other holiday, and they celebrate it to a wilder degree of abandon.

However… Yes, there’s that one word, “however,” because you’re about to learn that new traditions mean drugs and alcohol on New Year’s do not have to be part of that celebration, or any celebration. More and more often, people are finding reasons to drink less over the holidays for a variety of reasons.

  • More people have gained awareness of the perils of driving under the influence. They worry about driver safety, but they also want to avoid job-endangering events like arrest for DUIs.
  • People who take medication are better educated these days about the risks of mixing alcohol along with their prescription drugs. If you’re partying with a group of adults on New Year’s Eve, then the chances are pretty good that many of them will be taking some kind of medication for either physiological or behavioral issues. You might be surprised to learn that many of them quietly abstain.
  • Trends toward healthy living make people re-think their attitudes toward alcohol. It’s bad enough to consider that a beer has 150 calories, but a trendy 9-ounce Mai Tai contains over 600 calories! People who drink Margaritas or Mud Slides might as well smear their faces with Big Macs.

Buck the Trend: Celebrate Soberly

Here are some great ways to reach 2013 without falling off the wagon:

  • If you’re at a party, just stick with sparkling water and a twist of lemon or a sprig of mint.
  • If that sounds boring, then organize a nonalcoholic party. Visit Martha Stewart’s website for 11 scrumptious nonalcoholic beverage recipes. Tell people ahead of time that only nonalcoholic drinks will be served.
  • Volunteer to be a designated driver. No matter how tempted you are, you have to stay sober. And by the way don’t forget to notice how silly your friends are when they’re intoxicated.
  • Take a non-drinking buddy to the party with you. It’s true there’s strength in numbers.
  • Be careful of serving yourself from a punchbowl or drinking eggnog. Sugary ingredients can mask alcohol content and put you at risk for drinking.
  • Spend a sober New Year’s Eve with your teen. You’ll be setting a good example, and if sobriety on New Year’s Eve is new for you, you might be pleasantly surprised how much fun it is.

Just weeks after New Year’s, you’ll be facing the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. Then comes Mardi Gras, and right after that it’s time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You can learn how to abstain from drugs and alcohol all year round, even if the people around you can’t control blowing their corks.

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