16 Dec 2021

Coping during Christmas while in recovery

Whether you have been in recovery for years or if it’s relatively new to you, the festive season can be challenging. With families and friends gathering together for celebrations there is often a lot of temptation.

It is the party season and this means there will be a lot of people drinking alcohol and consuming drugs throughout this holiday period. If you live in the UK, you may be aware of the British drinking culture and how Christmas can often revolve around drinking. The festive period is a time to be wary of sober-shaming attitudes and pressures.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Christmas is a time to celebrate family, relationships and love. It is about being present and having experiencing genuine emotions. It is about enjoying lots of delicious food. It is about reflecting on things in your life and looking at what you are grateful for. Surrounding yourself with people that you love and that reciprocate that back to you.

It is important to remember that you are never alone in recovery. That even in difficult times where you might be surrounded by people who are drinking or using that there is a reason you aren’t. You need to remember why you started your recovery journey and what’s important to you. Being around people who have your best interests at heart is also important.

Fighting addiction relapse during the festive season

If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, it is more than okay to go out and celebrate at Christmas time. Many people can go out and get extremely drunk and it not have a big impact on their life and behaviours. It is important to be careful when drinking and making sure you have a plan. For example, pre-planning how you will get home after a night out.

Being a heavy drinker is different to having an alcohol addiction. It becomes a problem when it starts to have an impact on your daily activity. If you are worried about you or a loved one’s drinking then don’t hesitate to contact our team. There are here to give you help and advice. You don’t have to commit to anything. It is purely a chat about any questions or queries you might be having and directing you to the help you might need.

Tips to avoid indulging in alcohol or drugs at Christmas It can be extremely difficult if you’re in recovery in the run up to Christmas. Not to mention during the day itself and even after the festive period, with new year celebrations. If you’re not careful, it can place you in unwanted situations that test your sobriety or cause triggers that make relapse prevention even harder. Here are some tips to help you fight addiction relapse during this time:’

  • Prepare early - have a plan of what you are doing over the festive period to make sure you are prepared
  • Have a support network - whether that's family, friends or 12-step fellowship. They will be able to help you stay on track and fellowship meetings will continue to take place over the season.
  • Don't isolate yourself - This often makes things worse and can lead to mental health issues such as depression or unhealthy living.
  • Write down your feelings - This can be used as a form of therapy.
  • Have non-alcoholic options avaliable - planning the drinks you will drink can help to keep you on track.

Where to turn if you need addiction support

Info graphic showing where someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction canseek support over Christmas

If you find yourself unsure where to turn if you feel that you are struggling, here are some suggestions. There are many different support groups and helplines which will be available to you throughout the Christmas period.

There are meetings somewhere every day. There are even meetings on big celebration days such as Christmas eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve. It is important that you protect yourself and your sobriety. It might be that the best way for you to feel safe and comfortable is to attend meetings on these difficult days. Many people who struggle with addiction, especially in the first few years of recovery go to support groups on Christmas and celebration holidays to be safe and be around likeminded people. There is less of a risk of something bad happening if you protect yourself.

As well as support groups, try to get a sponsor and turn to them if you are struggling or finding certain situations hard. They are there to help and support you.


Find meetings and events on Al-anon’s website listed below:


Cocaine Anonymous (CA)


Join CA at their New Year’s Globathon (31st December- 1st January 2022)

‘Come be a part of Online Service Area's first annual New Year's Globathon. It's a time and safe space for newcomers and the rest of our valued fellowship to spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day via Zoom. We're having back-to-back meetings with diverse speakers within our global village sharing our global solution of recovery, multiple New Year's Eve countdowns based on time zones, workshops, open mic hour, games, a raffle, fellowship, and keynote speakers.’

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

NA have loads of meetings and events taking place throughout the festive season including Christmas day. Follow the link below to find one closest to you:


Alcohlica Anonymous (AA)

AA also offer meetings throughout the holiday period. Just enter your postcode to find one nearest to you:



Find lots of useful resources on the Samaritans website. Samaritans provides emotional support for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgment or pressure. By phone, text and in person in branches across the UK, they are there 24 hours a day.

Call 116 123.

Via email:  jo@samaritans.org is free.

In person: Visiting us face-to-face in your local branch is free.

Don't do it alone at Xmas

At Rehabs UK we have a deep understanding of addiction and how to take the right steps to recovery. Many of our team know first hand the challenges of recovery and how to get there. Christmas and the festive period in general can be a stressful time. Don’t suffer alone, if you’re worried about going into relapse, speak to our specialist addiction recovery team today.