How about a safe and sober New Year’s Eve?
If this is the first New Year’s Eve you are facing as a recovering alcoholic, you may be inclined to hide under the covers until 12:01 a.m. on January 1st. Better to just avoid the whole crazy night than to get tripped up on a trigger.
But there are options, believe it or not, to an alcohol-drenched celebration of the upcoming change of the calendar. Why not create your own revelry style and eschew those tired trends of the past? With a little imagination and planning, along with some careful avoidance strategizing, you can smile your way into the new year and wake up proud of yourself for facing the obstacles head on and not caving.
- Throw your own New Year’s Eve party. Being in control of what will be served will keep you in the driver’s seat. Invite a bunch of your buddies from A.A., and if including other friends make sure to invite only the ones who will respect the limitations of the beverage options. Try out some of the many delicious and festive non-alcoholic drink recipes available online. Break out the karaoke machine or hire a comedian. This will be a party that is talked about for months.
- Grab a friend and enjoy a scrumptious meal at a fancy restaurant, followed by a just-released movie at the local theater. This should gobble up about four hours and by the time you get home it will probably be the first few minutes of New Year’s Day. Mission accomplished!
- Have a cook-off. That’s right, send out an invite stating clearly that this is a sober event and have a cooking contest. Select a category or two, such as chili, stew, or desserts and have a competition of the dishes brought to the event. Assign a few “judges” to do the taste tests and hand out the blue ribbons and even a prize, such as a gift card to a local restaurant. The best part is getting to gorge all the yummy entries after the judging.
- Make it a romantic evening for two. Plan a candlelight dinner, complete with tablecloth, candles and flowers. If it is the guy doing the planning, and if he isn’t kitchen savvy, go ahead and have it catered. A roaring fire and soft music will complete the romantic mood for welcoming the new year. After dinner, how about snuggling up in a cozy blanket and watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with your sweetie, until the moment when that huge sparkling ball drops in Times Square. Imagine kissing someone at midnight that you actually care about, instead of a slobbering, drunken partier.
As far as evasive action, it is wise to anticipate possible danger zones if venturing out to a New Year’s Eve party. Know in advance if the party is focusing on a drinking theme or a wine tasting format. If the event is being hosted in a bar, forget it. Because any party you attend may be loaded with landmines for someone in early recovery, it is a good idea to bring a sober buddy along. Be prepared with your short and sweet response when offered a drink, because you will need to use it often during the evening. Practice it in the mirror in advance, even—“No, thank you, I’m not drinking tonight.” Better yet, bring your own soda or sparkling non-alcoholic beverage, just in case the host or hostess has not included any such options, so you will have a drink in hand. And know that it is just fine to say your goodbyes and leave if you begin to feel tempted to imbibe.
In the event you have no good options for New Year’s Eve, it is just fine to hit the sales after Christmas for a brand new set of 600 thread-count sheets. When New Year’s Eve hits, you will be snug as a bug in a rug in your cozy new sheets, into which you can safely bury your head until the next day arrives.
Sovereign Health Group is a residential treatment program for substance abuse and mental health disorders, with facilities across the nation. For more information about addiction and recovery, please call 866-524-5504.
Written by Eileen Spatz, Sovereign Health Group writer