Sobriety doesn’t mean giving up holiday fun

Published 2:46 pm Thursday, December 10, 2015

With Christmas and New Years come holiday parties and with holiday parties, often, comes alcohol.

For those who struggle with addiction, Issac Boose said this time of year can be a struggle between the desires to drink and socialize and stay safely clear of alcohol.

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Boose is the director of Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, and he suggests people in recovery attend holiday parties, but he advises that they be clear with anyone who asks if they would like a drink. 

“If someone offers you a drink, someone should say, ‘No thank you, I don’t drink,’” he said. 

Boose explained that when people say “I can’t drink,” or “I don’t drink anymore,” it implies there could be a possibility of drinking and some pushy hosts might try and goad someone in recovery to just have one glass of something. 

Boose said another strategy is to have a glass of something non-alcoholic in hand at all times. 

“Usually at a party people are drinking something, and if you’re not drinking, and if you don’t have something in their hand, it can feel odd,” he said. 

So, he suggests a glass of club soda or punch. But, he adds, if a host is being insistent, the person should be clear.

“If you’re around people who are offering you something to drink, say, ‘No thank you, I don’t drink,’ and watch how quickly they leave you alone,” he said. 

Of course, the holidays are more than parties. Boose said people tend to get emotional around the holidays and memories—good or bad—could lead to alcohol.

“People can get sentimental,” he said. “They can think about childhood and reminisce when the times were good or the bad, because people don’t just drink when times are bad; they drink when times are good. And the holidays can make people feel left out or lonely. And what I would suggest is, we’re never alone, we’re never not with someone. If you believe in a higher power, ask your higher power to be with you. Some people ask angels to help them.”

Boose pointed out that the holiday season may actually be easier to meet people in the community for safe, sober activities.

“Be involved,” he said. “Volunteer at a soup kitchen or Christian services. Serve food to people. That will help people feel involved.”

Finally, he said, if someone is spending Christmas away from family, find some friends and make some new traditions.

“You can still have that kind of family-like atmosphere with friends around you,” he said. “Nowadays celebrating is not all that traditional because people move around so much.”

Boose pointed out that many restaurants and hotels serve Christmas dinners, so it should be easy to find a place to eat.

“People can get together with friends, maybe six friends and go out to dinner,” he said. “Especially for people who are away from home who are dealing with recovery issues, it can be really nice and entertaining to go out to dinner on Christmas day.”

And, finally, Boose said people in recovery should not forget their addiction meetings, if they need them. 

“The big thing that I would say though, is if a person is struggling, find support,” he said. “This is what I would say to them, that they need to focus on their meetings that they need support who from individuals who know they’re in recovery.”

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can be located anywhere in the state through the website .