10 Tips To Navigate New Year’s Eve In Recovery

Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


This New Year’s Eve, if you have a loved one in recovery from substance abuse, your celebrations might look different from previous years.

Being around champagne and partying might be hard for someone recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, and those New Year’s resolutions might bring feelings of guilt and failure.

For people with loved ones in recovery this holiday season, here are 10 ways you can honor their presence while keeping your celebrations fun and alcohol-free.

1. Discuss Ground Rules First

Especially if this is your friend or family member’s first sober New Year’s, it’s important to establish a few ground rules before hosting or going to an event.

These expectations serve to protect you and your loved one to provide the pathway for a sober, safe night together.

Ground rules might include the following:

  • No drinking alcohol. If alcohol is present, you’ll leave the situation and find somewhere else to go.
  • No smoking or using drugs, or spending time with friends who are consuming substances around you.
  • If the situation has become overwhelming or triggering, you’ll leave.
  • You’ll be prepared with an exit plan when and if the above circumstances arise.
  • Certain people or places are off-limits, such as those associated with past drug or alcohol use.

2. Find Alternative Drink Options

If your loved one in recovery will be around others drinking alcohol and feel comfortable and strong enough in their sobriety to do so, they can choose to do it.

In this case, come prepared with a few drink options. Choose drinks with a fizz, such as sparkling cider or sparkling water, make mocktails, or bring their favorite soda.

3. Go To A Neutral Event

Neutral events are any New Year’s Eve events that do not involve substances. This will help your loved one to stay sober and removed from any possible temptations to relapse.

A few options you can explore include:

  • a concert, performance, movie, or theatre production
  • a fireworks show
  • going to a coffee shop
  • interactive events, such as bowling, skiing, or skating
  • spending New Year’s Eve outdoors, such as going on a hike

4. Avoid Making Assumptions

Don’t assume anything about your loved one’s recovery. You should always ask for their preferences.

For example, a person with eight years of sobriety behind them might feel put down if they feel like their friends can’t have a good time on New Year’s because they’re not drinking.

However, assuming that your loved one’s sobriety is strong and providing an open bar at your New Year’s Eve party may be insensitive if they need a sober environment to be comfortable.

Everyone’s recovery is completely different, and it’s always best to talk to them beforehand to get an idea of what they’re comfortable with.

5. Spend The Night In

The expectation of New Year’s Eve is generally that people host big parties, go out to bars, and go to clubs. 

But if your loved one is in addiction recovery, there’s no reason to keep this expectation going just because it’s the norm.

Offer to spend the night with just the two of you, your small family, or your small group of friends. Watch movies, share non-alcoholic beverages, and see the ball drop on TV.

6. Support Your Loved One In A Rehab Center

Some people have loved ones in an inpatient facility over the festive season, which can create a sense of loss and loneliness for both you and your loved one over a holiday.

You can still support your loved one in a rehab program over Christmas and New Year’s

Make time to visit them in person or schedule a call with them, send facility-approved gifts and New Year’s themed care packages, and share how proud you are of them for their recovery.

7. Rehearse Responses To Hard Questions

Your spouse, friend, child, or family member might be faced with some uncomfortable questions on New Year’s Eve, especially if they’ll be around people who are consuming drugs or alcohol.

If they’re comfortable with talking about their recovery, they can do so. But if they’re not quite ready to share that part of their lives yet, there are several other ways to handle these questions.

Here are a few ways your loved one can respond to the question, Why aren’t you drinking?” or “Do you want a drink?”:

  • “I’m the designated driver for tonight.”
  • “I prefer this drink, but thanks for asking.”
  • “Drinking isn’t great for my mental health, so I prefer not to.”
  • “I’m enjoying spending the night sober.”
  • “I just don’t drink.”
  • “I feel more in control when I don’t drink.”

8. Drive Their Car 

Without the freedom of having their own mode of transportation available, your loved one might end up getting trapped in a situation they don’t want to be in.

You can also order an Uber or Lyft home, but it’s best for them to have access to their own vehicle so they can exit swiftly as needed.

If they do not have a car or need a ride somewhere, be prepared to leave with them at any point, no questions asked.

9. Go To A Support Group With Them

Offer to go to a recovery support group with your loved one on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Be sure to find an open meeting, as some meetings are for recovering people only.

You can go to an open group therapy session, an Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step meeting, a family counseling session, or another recovery group.

Go to a meeting before and after your New Year’s celebrations to ensure your loved one is getting the support they need around the holiday.

10. Encourage Your Loved One To Get Help

Your support is appreciated and important, but it’s also beneficial for people in recovery to get professional support, or support from their peers in recovery.

Help them to find a support group, detox center, inpatient residential treatment program, outpatient program, or another recovery option.

If your loved one is overcoming addiction with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as alcohol or opioids, they can get help with a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.

An MAT program is a good, part-time treatment option, so they can receive medicine and therapy before New Year’s for physical and emotional support in time for celebrations.

Get Recovery Help For Your Loved One

People recovering from alcohol or drug addiction around New Year’s may need professional guidance to get through the holiday and meet long-term recovery goals.

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we’re here to help you or your loved one find the recovery support they need. 

Reach out to our helpline to learn about our wide range of care and find a treatment program today.

  1. FindTreatment.gov — Understanding addiction https://findtreatment.gov/content/understanding-addiction/addiction-can-affect-anyone/
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information — RECOVERY: THE MANY PATHS TO WELLNESS https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424846/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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