Treat yourself to a sober Christmas: How to get through the holidays without alcohol

Originally posted on:

Originally posted on: without-alcohol-3 /

Originally published on: without-alcohol-2 /

Originally published on: without-alcohol /

The holiday season can be a joyful opportunity to meet friends and family, especially after months of Auckland’s lockdown, but for a number of non-alcoholic kiwis, the season brings some hurdles.

Living Sober writer and website manager Lotta Dann, who has been sober for 10 years, said the added noise about alcohol at Christmas is harsh, especially for newborns.

“A lot of these festive events we have are about alcohol,” Dann said. “It’s often the focus of our socializing, and when you don’t attend it can feel like you’re not in this humid world.”

Lotta Dann says that at Christmas parties and other end-of-year holidays, alcohol is often the focus.


Lotta Dann says that year-end Christmas parties and other holiday events often revolve around alcohol.

A decade earlier, at the age of 39, Dann said she had a “terrible” drinking problem and was in a “very dark place”.

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“It was a terrible decision to learn to live without her, it wasn’t a random decision I made. I really believed that alcohol was used to have fun and relax, but that’s a bunch of sh … “

The author Lotta Dann decided to sober up at the age of 39.

LOTTA THEN / Delivered

The author Lotta Dann decided to sober up at the age of 39.

Then she said her first sober Christmas was tough because she used alcohol to “crush her emotions.”

“The first few were really tough, I had all this internal dialogue about whether people would think I was boring.”

One way to deal with feelings like this was to engage with and communicate with people who are going through similar situations, Dann said.

“You feel really isolated and like there isn’t anyone who understands, so it’s good to connect with people who understand and know that you’re not the only one going through it.”

Former journalist and current counseling student Tommy Livingston is experiencing his second holiday season soberly, saying that while the first had difficult moments, he was “looking forward to them.”

“I am grateful that alcohol is not part of my life this Christmas season; I think last year I was worried about how I would handle it, but I enjoyed it and didn’t miss it.

“I’ve always had a bad relationship with alcohol. I wasn’t a big drinker – I just felt like I had no control over my relationship, so I decided enough was enough. “

Livingston said he found the summer months tougher because there were so many social events associated with alcohol.

Tommy Livingston decided to stop drinking at 20 - he's been sober for a year and three months.


Tommy Livingston decided to quit drinking at 20 – he has been sober for a year and three months.

Olivia *, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) agreed that Christmas could be a really tough time, and in the past she had used that time of year to drink as much as possible.

“As an alcoholic, I knew that I could get up in the morning at Christmas time and have a drink and no one would judge me for it.”

The recent lockdown also made it more difficult for those who were newly sober, Dann said, as the “scary or unknown” aspects put people under pressure.

“Our forums have been busier than ever lately, and I think pouring into the holiday season right after the lockdown has been stressful for a lot of people.”

Lotta Dann has been sober for a decade.

LOTTA THEN / Delivered

Lotta Dann has been sober for a decade.

Olivia said that during her first sober Christmas, she often “felt uncomfortable” around people who were drinking and seemingly enjoying themselves, but 17 years later she was no longer worried.

“The first few years can be very lonely and hard, I was used to drinking every day, so I had to rediscover myself.”

For anyone heading into the holiday season sober, Dann said that one way to deal with upcoming parties and dinners is to schedule in some fancier soft drinks.

“Get something nice and tasty that you like – there are now many non-alcoholic options.”

She said it was also good to have an “exit plan” for events when you feel uncomfortable or safe.

The holiday season can be tough for the freshly sober.


The holiday season can be tough for the freshly sober.

“If you have a hard time going to a party, be nice to yourself and just go or don’t go if you don’t want to.”

Regarding the pressure to drink from friends and family, Dann said she got comments here and there at parties, usually from someone who drinks a lot.

“From my work on Living Sober, I know that many people get this pressure from their fellow human beings. I think it’s just that people don’t understand that some people can’t just have an occasional drink. “

Not having a drink at a party really wasn’t a big deal, Olivia said, and often the pressure people felt was inside.

“Most of them don’t care if you don’t drink, a lot happens in our heads.”

Then she said she believed alcohol was too easy and cheap to get in Aotearoa and she would like to see this change.

“I feel like the marketing really needs to be limited, and it shouldn’t be that easily accessible. Alcohol will never go away, and I think it shouldn’t be banned, but our environment is far too saturated with it.

Lotta Dann says that alcohol is too easily available in Aotearoa.

Sigmund / Unsplash

Lotta Dann says that alcohol is too easily available in Aotearoa.

“It is the only drug condemned for not taking it.”

As time went on, Dann said that every Christmas was easier to deal with.

“I don’t feel like it anymore, alcohol no longer holds me.”

Livingston said he stopped drinking at 20 because he realized that without alcohol he would have a better future.

“I’m having just as much fun, if not more, now that alcohol is gone from my life.

“I am no longer afraid to drink alcohol, I have become much healthier, have more energy and am more present with my emotions.”

He said it is important for sober people to remember that they don’t have to justify their decision in front of anyone.

Christmas and New Years Eve can be tough on the new-sober.

Freestocks / Unsplash

Christmas and New Years Eve can be tough on the new-sober.

For those who go into Christmas and New Years sober, Dann has a simple message: You can do that.

“Think how good you will feel when you wake up in the New Year without a hangover. You can do it and the future will thank you.

Tips to get through the Christmas season soberly

  • Talk to others – Then he said it was important to reach out through support groups if the holidays are difficult for you.
  • Find non-alcoholic alternatives – Create your own mocktails or treat yourself to a non-alcoholic drink that you will love during the Christmas season.
  • Create an exit plan – If you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable at a party, have an exit plan ready so you can leave. Then he also said the important thing to remember is that if you don’t feel ready, you don’t have to go to a party.
  • Put things in perspective – Then he said it was important to remember that Christmas and New Years are just days, and a year-end celebration is just another gathering. “Don’t strain, exaggerate, or overemphasize the silly times of the year; They are like everyone else we navigate all year round. “

Addiction: where to get help

  • Alcoholics Anonymous 0800 229 6757

  • Alcohol and Drugs Helpline 0800 787 797 or email

  • Higher ground (09) 834 0017

  • Narcotics Anonymous 0800 NA TODAY (0800 628 632)

  • Odyssey Trust 09 638 4957

  • The Salvation Army bridge program 0800 53 00 00

  • If it’s an emergency or you or someone else is in imminent danger, call 111.

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