How to cope with Christmas when in early recovery

In early recovery the individual may be fuelled with some worries about the festive season. This time of year, can be challenging. With families and friends gathering together for celebrations and the first year being sober might seem scary.

As with British drinking culture, Christmas can often revolve around drinking and getting drunk. Many people are going out for work nights out or Christmas meals. If you are in recovery, you can still enjoy these things if you have the support around you. It is the party season and this means there will be a lot of people drinking alcohol and consuming drugs throughout this holiday period.

The potential pressure or ‘sober-shaming’ individuals may face during this time shouldn’t impact their sobriety if they surround themselves with people who have the individual’s best interest at heart. They aren’t being a ‘party pooper’ they are doing the best for them and their journey.

Christmas is a time to celebrate family, relationships and love. It is about being present and experiencing genuine emotions. It is about enjoying lots of delicious food. It is about reflecting on things in your life and looking at what you are grateful for. Surrounding yourself with people that you love and that reciprocate that back to you.

It Is important to remember that an individual is never alone in recovery. That even in difficult times when they might be surrounded by people who are drinking or using that there is a reason why they aren’t. The individual needs to remember why they started their recovery journey and what’s important to them. Being around people who have the persons best interests at heart is also important.



Try to surround yourself with those that know your situation and support you. If you feel like you need to take a break just remove yourself from the situation and do something else for a few minutes. If you are with people who have your best interests at heart, they won’t mind you taking some time for yourself.


“Stay with family and friends who support you. Just remember why you are on your journey and why you have got to this point. Reflecting on the past and how far you’ve come. Get yourself to a meeting or ring your sponsor if you are feeling vulnerable. It will help.”


“I would say just get yourself to meetings all the time. On all the big days around Christmas especially. Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, I was in meetings all the time in early recovery on these days. It’s where I felt safe and knew I wasn’t going to be at risk. It was nice to be with like-minded people.”


"I did 90 meetings in 90 days. This helped me at the start. It was lockdown at Christmas in my first year of recovery. So, all meetings were online via zoom. On Christmas day I took myself away from my family for a little while when they were watching a film to join an AA meeting because that's what I needed to keep on track."


Find meetings and events on Al-Anon’s website listed below:


Join CA at their New Year’s Globathon (31st December- 1st January 2022)

‘Come be a part of Online Service Area's first annual New Year's Globathon. It's a time and safe space for newcomers and the rest of our valued fellowship to spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day via Zoom. We're having back-to-back meetings with diverse speakers within our global village sharing our global solution of recovery, multiple New Year's Eve countdowns based on time zones, workshops, open mic hour, games, a raffle, fellowship, and keynote speakers.’


NA have loads of meetings and events taking place throughout the festive season including Christmas day. Follow the link below to find one closest to you:


AA also offer meetings throughout the holiday period. Just enter your postcode to find one nearest to you:


Find lots of useful resources on the Samaritans website. Samaritans provides emotional support for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgment or pressure. By phone, text and in person in branches across the UK, they are there 24 hours a day.

Call 116 123.

Via email: Emailing us on is free.

In person: Visiting us face-to-face in your local branch is free.