With life returning to a sense of normalcy, even though the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the new year seems to bring with it even more opportunities for making a new start.
For many people, 2023 will be their first year of sobriety in a long time. If you are in recovery from alcohol abuse or drug abuse, know that there are plenty of ways to ring in the new year without using substances.
Planning your night ahead of time and identifying potential triggers can help you start the new year with confidence.
1. Attend A Local Alcathon/Narcathon
Alcohol is usually a part of most major holiday celebrations, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. For those struggling with substance abuse issues, this time of year can be particularly difficult to navigate.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two community-based groups that offer support through a 12-step program. Meetings can be found virtually anywhere in the world, including face-to-face and online.
Both AA and NA host local marathon meetings during the holiday season, known as Alcathons or Narcathons. Alcathons offer a safe and sober place to ring in the New Year with food, and fellowship.
You can contact the AA or NA resources in your area to find more information about Alcathon and Narcathon locations.
2. Celebrate The New You
Whether you’ve been sober for one day or all year, New Year’s Eve offers a great opportunity to celebrate both your commitment to recovery and your success so far.
What are a few of your favorite things? This could very well be changing as you embrace a sober lifestyle. It’s worth it to take some time to think about it.
Substance abuse can be so powerful that we neglect all of the activities we once loved to do. The new year presents an opportunity to rediscover or delve into what we enjoy.
Celebrating the new you on New Year’s Eve might look like getting a massage earlier in the day, texting with your BFF, and then getting your favorite pizza delivered while watching movies.
Maybe it involves planning a hike in a park near you that you’ve been meaning to check out, followed by a night of playing games with friends and sipping hot cocoa with mini marshmallows.
3. Party At A Sober Bar
At first, sobriety may appear to narrow the window of opportunities for going out or meeting new people. However, the United States has experienced growing popularity with sober bars. Sober bars are alcohol-free establishments that serve non-alcoholic cocktails, known as “mocktails.”
Sober bars are open to anyone, whether you are in recovery or just trying to cut back on alcohol use. If you like the atmosphere of the bar scene and it does not pose a danger to your sobriety, a local sober bar can be a fun way to ring in the new year.
You can enjoy the chaotic atmosphere of a night out without the fear of a hangover or other substance-fueled consequences. Some sober bars may have open mic nights, special guests, and other events.
4. Out With The Old (To Make Room For The New)
New Year’s Eve can be a great time to reflect on your time spent in recovery so far and identify what has helped you maintain sobriety and what has stood in your way.
Get cozy on the sofa with a nice journal, put on your favorite movie or music, and jot down all the things you no longer want in your life.
This might be clothing that you don’t like anymore, pictures you’ve been keeping on your phone for too long, or a memento that reminds you of your old life.
Maybe some of the items on your list will be beliefs that you hold or once held about yourself that no longer fit the person you’re becoming.
Sleep on it, and then spend some time on New Year’s Day eliminating these things from your life. Throw clothing and household items into a bag to donate, and trash the rest, if it feels good.
5. Host A Game Night
Celebrate the new year with close family members and friends by hosting a game night. A game night is a healthy way to bond, have fun, and learn more about each other. It can even help you build your recovery support system.
Plan ahead by making invitations and choosing a variety of board games and snacks.
If you want a more elaborate party, you can set up a theme party, like an Escape Room-style game. If you want to have a few laughs with friends and keep it simple, you could stick to a classic game like Charades.
6. Get Outside
Being outside, even for a short period of time, can offer significant improvements to overall well-being. In fact, most rehabilitation centers incorporate hikes and other outdoor activities into their addiction treatment plans.
Outdoor activities have been found to decrease stress and improve feelings of happiness. In addition, nature may also improve physical health by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension.
Depending on the weather, you may be able to go for a morning hike or have an afternoon picnic. If it snows in your area, try ice skating, sledding, or set up a ski trip with friends.
Simple activities that are centered in nature will help you feel like a kid again and reconnect with yourself.
7. Laugh Your Way Into The New Year
Laughter just might be the best medicine. Research shows that it can help relieve stress, enhance oxygen intake, release endorphins, and soothe tension, making it a great healthy habit to adopt during addiction recovery.
The other good news about laughter is that it doesn’t have to be spontaneous, which makes it much easier to exercise.
Voluntary (or “fake”) laughter has just as many health benefits as spontaneous laughter. Set a timer for 15 minutes and give your belly laugh all you’ve got.
If you live close to neighbors and are worried about what they might think about your sudden outburst, you might try driving somewhere more secluded to practice your “laughter therapy.”
8. Make A Vision Board
Goal-setting is an important part of addiction recovery, and a dream or vision board can help you zero in on your goals for 2023. All you need is a piece of poster board, some magazines, scissors, glue, and a marker or two.
Sift through the magazines looking for images that cause a positive response in you. This might include shapes and colors, actual physical objects, cartoon images, or anything else that interests you.
Cut out these images and organize them on your board. Wait to glue them down until you have enough images to fill the board.
Write a theme or title for your vision board across the top. Keep your vision board somewhere you can easily see it every day to be reminded of what motivates you and what you’re working toward.
9. Host A Dinner Party
Dinner parties don’t have to include alcohol. In fact, you can make mocktails if they don’t trigger cravings for the real stuff. Create ambiance with music and lighting to give your New Year’s Eve dinner a warm, inviting atmosphere.
By hosting it yourself, you can invite people you know are in support of your sobriety and whom you feel comfortable around. Plan a menu and have control over the cooking or make it a potluck style party and have each guest bring a dish.
10. Stay In & Relax
You don’t have to throw a party to celebrate New Year’s Eve, especially if you prefer a quieter environment. You can watch the iconic ball drop in New York City’s Times Square from the comfort of your couch. You can binge-watch a new television show, find a new movie, or catch up on some reading.
You can start the New Year off with a healthy mindset by setting an intention to invite a new practice into your daily routine. You might decide to start journaling, practicing yoga, or meditating for a few minutes each day.
11. Seek Treatment
Perhaps you are currently struggling with substance abuse issues and fear facing the holiday season without drugs or alcohol. There’s no better time than now to seek treatment and spend the holidays in a safe and supportive environment.
Outpatient programs are available to those who need a flexible program that allows them to live at home. Inpatient programs offer 24/7 supervision and a more structured program with a complete focus on recovery.
If you are struggling this holiday season, help is available. Please contact us to learn more about treatment options.