Although the holidays are now celebratory occasions, they weren’t always. Back when we were still drinking and using, the holidays were less “walkin’ in a winter wonderland” and more “stumblin’ in a foggy nightmare”. Lucky for us, however, those days of waking up after an Ugly Christmas Sweater party and looking out the window to make sure our car is there—and in one piece—are behind us. And for that, we’re so, SO grateful. Here are seven reasons why we’re happy to be staying sober during the holidays and why wouldn’t trade a single sober New Years for all the Christmas presents in the world.
1. Buh-bye DUIs
During our active addiction, no other month tempted the DUI fates like December. Between Christmas, New Years, office holiday parties, and the general stress of trying to balance work and family time, December was practically a DUI waiting to happen. Now that we’re clean and sober, however, we don’t have to worry about DUIs or any of the problems that result with “I’m totally sober enough to drive. I think. Maybe” approach to driving. And thank goodness for that!
2. So long shameful office party antics
When we were drinking and using, company holiday parties were a source of stress. We knew it was important that we behave ourselves in front of the big bosses, but our addictions made that impossible. We couldn’t “let loose…but only a little” like was expected in a professional setting. One cup of eggnog or peppermint schnapps and it was over. “Did I really try to dance with a plastic reindeer?” We’d wonder the next day as we muddled through our foggy memories. “I can’t believe I told my boss he looked like Santa Clause,” we’d think, cringing in shame. Luckily, those days are over. Now we can go to holiday parties secure in the knowledge that if we do end up dancing with a reindeer at some point in the evening, it’ll be because our rational, clear-headed selves chose to do so.
3. No more spending January 1st in Hangover Hell
We used to love January 1st because it was one of those few days a year that we didn’t have to wake up feeling guilty or ashamed about what a drunken crazy idiot we’d been the night before, because, for once, we weren’t alone. All across the planet, people were waking up on New Years Day with a headache and a heaping dose of regret; all too ready to commiserate with us in our misery. Now though, we realize that waking up early on January 1 feeling refreshed and energized is one of the best ego boosts in the world. While everyone else is nursing a Gatorade on the couch, we’re making the most of our day off from work by playing sports, hanging with friends or getting a productive start on our New Years Resolutions. January 1 now serves as a nice reminder about how great it can feel to be healthy and in control of our lives.
4. Hello extra money
Once upon a time, all of our money went to booze or drugs. Now that we aren’t spending most of our income getting drunk or high, we can save money for activities that we will actually enjoy, like a weekend ski vacation or fun family trip. Beer alone sets the average drinker back $1,270 per year (and again, that’s the “average” drinker, which, we alcoholics most certainly were not). We can now take those few thousand extra bucks and spend it on something that doesn’t leave us hurting or heaving over the toilet.
5. Quality time with family
During our active addiction, “quality family time” wasn’t something we did very well. If we managed to crawl out of bed in time to attend the holiday recital or partake in the Christmas carol sing-a-long, we were usually too intoxicated or hung-over to enjoy it. And it’s hard to be fully present when you’re preoccupied with thoughts of when and where you’re going to get your next drink or fix. Now that our holiday meals don’t involve a round of vodka shots, we can be 100 percent present for every Turkey dinner conversation, gift exchange or Christmas cookie bakeoff. And we’ll have the memories to prove it.
6. Holiday feasts done the right way
Back when we spent the holidays under the influence of something a little stronger than pecan pie and espresso, we were frequently too intoxicated to even notice what were eating, let alone savor it. What’s more, research has shown that prolonged heavy drinking can damage parts of the brain that affect a person’s sense of smell, which in turn affects a person’s ability to taste (and enjoy) their food. Add the fact that drinking numbs your tastebuds and all that homemade stuffing and fig pudding was likely completely wasted on us. Not true anymore! Now we get to devote our full attention to every delicious morsel of pie or bite of creamy mashed potato and can take the time to enjoy the rich variety of flavors and textures.
7. Starting the New Year off healthy
Turning over a new leaf was tough when we spent the first day (or two) of every new year feeling tired and sick. What was the use of trying to get to the gym to lose those 10 pounds when we could barely get out of bed? Though living a substance-free life hasn’t guaranteed we’ll commit to our New Years Resolutions, it’s certainly made it a lot more likely. Plus, even if we don’t end up sticking with our promise to eat fewer donuts or watch less reality TV, we can still comfort ourselves with the fact that we stuck with our sobriety—and that’s what matters most
About LVRC: Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) is an alcohol treatment program located in Southern Nevada. LVRC offers a range of substance use disorder treatment options, including drug and alcohol detox, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, sober living residences and a family and alumni program. Call our 24-hour hotline to learn more.