As the Christmas tunes of yesteryear play out across the airways, I’ve been spending time reflecting on how best I can help you enjoy a sober Christmas. For many people new to sobriety, the holiday season brings about fresh challenges. Dealing with peer pressure surrounding drinking is one of the most difficult.

For me, Christmas is about enjoying delicious food and good company. I’m abSOULutely grateful that I’m fully present to enjoy the festivities without hangovers, hazy memories, or alcohol-fuelled feuds.

After more than nine years without alcohol, I’m confident in my sobriety. But for some, a comment like “Go on, have a drink. It’s Christmas!” has the potential to cause a wobble.

If you’ve previously had the reputation of a party animal, turning down a drink is even more challenging. When you’re expected to be the drunken “life and soul” it can be harder to get the importance of your sobriety across to friends, family, and colleagues. Some simply won’t understand your desire to avoid alcohol and that’s when the peer pressure tends to kick in.

Peer pressure regarding alcohol is no new thing. I’m sure you’ll have heard phrases like “party pooper” bandied around when somebody mentions they don’t drink. Unfortunately, many people still consider alcohol as essential for a good time – despite the toxic effects it has on our bodies and minds.

What’s even more concerning is the worrying fact that came to light in a 2019 survey by DrinkAware. The independent alcohol education charity monitored over 2000 UK adults and found that over a third of drinkers (35%) said peer pressure to drink alcohol is common in their age group (rising to 60% of those aged 18-34).

Furthermore, one in five adults who drink admitted to having encouraged someone to drink more alcohol after despite them saying they didn’t want to. Thats a shocking statistic and one that needs addressing quickly.

So what’s the best way to deal firmly with people who insist alcohol is the key to a good time?

In short, the answer lies within.

You have the strength to say no to alcohol. Being sober is something you should be incredibly proud of. You can say no. and if you need a little help, these points will help you along the way.

Keep Your Response Short And Simple

You don’t need to provide a reason as to why you aren’t drinking. It’s a personal choice, and nobody has the right to pressure you. If you’re offered a drink, the best thing to do is give a simple “No thank you” response. Or, if providing an explanation is easier, mention you’re driving or that you have other plans for later in the evening.

There are lots of different reasons you can give and sometimes having a pre-prepared response helps, like saying you’re on medication. However, you should never feel embarrassed about your sobriety. Alcohol is a carcinogenic poison, and saying no to alcohol when all around you are knocking it back takes inner strength. Stand your ground and be proud to be sober.

Other suggestions for a simple no include:

  • I don’t drink
  • I’ve got a very busy day tomorrow and don’t want a hangover
  • Alcohol makes me sick
  • I have more fun sober

Opt For Alcohol-Free Alternatives

Christmas is a time when we like to give back to others. Everyone dons their Christmas jumper and gets into the party spirit. You don’t always have to say no when a friend offers to buy you a drink. It’s ok to accept their kind offer but opt for a non-alcoholic or alcohol-free alternative.

Most bars and clubs now offer a range of alcohol-free beers, ciders, and spirits. Soft drinks can sometimes get a bit sweet and sickly after a while, so an AF drink makes a pleasant alternative. Youre also less likely to be asked why you’re not drinking as the AF bottles look similar to alcoholic versions.

However, a word of advice. If you feel triggered by alcohol-free drinks, it’s best to stay clear. Don’t risk your sobriety – stick to a soft drink or sparkling water. Or even have a coffee or hot chocolate.

Club Soda has opened an alcohol free shop and bar in the heart of Covent Garden at 39 Drury Lane. It’s a perfect place to get some fab AF drinks in the run up to Xmas or to chill out for a drink and plant some seeds with sober curious friends. 

Be The Designated Driver (But Don’t Feel You Have To Be A Taxi Service)

One aspect I love about being sober is the ability to leave a function whenever I want. Gone are the days of hanging around waiting to get a taxi with others or fretting about how I might get home. (Or falling asleep in the bar and being a burden on my friends who had to get me home.)

If you’re driving, it’s a clear reason to others as to why you aren’t drinking. Nobodys going to force a beer down you if they know you’re getting behind the wheel.

The only problem with driving is that everyone else assumes they have a free ride home. You occasionally end up having your freedom curtailed because others are having “just one more dance” or “one more shot”. Sometimes it can take an hour or more to herd everyone up and get them out to the car!

There’s an easy way around this scenario. If you’re acting as Des, remember to set clear boundaries beforehand. Speak to your friends and tell them when youre planning on leaving. That way theyre forewarned and if they want to stay later theyve plenty of time to sort out an alternative lift home. It’s not being fussy or acting like a party-pooper. It’s protecting your sanity and sobriety.

Add Some Humour And Make Light Of The Situation

Saying no to some people is like being on a crazy merry-go-round. Or similar to chatting to a curious toddler. You say youre not drinking, and their stock response is generally Why?”.

It doesnt stop there. When you offer an explanation, theyll often come up with another point to try to steer you away from your sober goals. Because sadly for some people, alcohol is the only way to have fun.

Remember, when this happens, it’s often a reflection on the other person’s drinking habits. If somebody can’t imagine having a great time without alcohol, it suggests they may have an issue with their drinking. Its certainly not a reflection on you. 

But its still annoying to be bombarded with questions about your sobriety.

Humour is a great way to help steer the conversation away from you and your whys. Deflect the chat back towards the person poking the fun at your sobriety. If you find yourself accused of being “boring”, laugh it off with a comment like “there’s nothing more boring than spending a day in bed with a hangover”. Or I dont fancy bowing down to the porcelain god, again!” Don’t let others spoil your fun. It’s a joy to be sober. Those who poke fun on a night out won’t feel so great the morning after – the perfect time to send a message showing how fresh and clear-headed you are.

Be Honest And Upfront With Your Friends

The truth is, good friends won’t question your sobriety. Instead, theyll understand your reasons and try their best to support you. Try to have a conversation with your close friends and family and let them know about your sobriety.

If your nearest and dearest are aware of your sober goals, they’re less likely to put you under any pressure. And if you’re out at a party together, a good friend will step in to defend your decisions if your sobriety becomes an issue for others.

If you’re heading out to a work party and feel it might get difficult, have a friend on stand-by as a call-buddy. If you want to leave but don’t want to appear rude, ask your friend to give you a call at a designated time. You’ll have the perfect “emergency” excuse needed to disappear and leave the socialising to others.

Surround Yourself With Support

Staying sober when those around you try to lure you back to drinking is challenging. Let others know that you’re serious about staying sober. Lean into all the support you can get from friends and family. Plan ahead for a sober Christmas and be prepared for a sober holiday season.

If you feel you need more support, why not book a JOMO call with me. I’ll help you navigate through the Christmas period and start 2023 with renewed hope and optimism. It worked for my client Michelle Fraser – “I reached out to Jojo. I had no idea if she could help me or not, but maybe she could point me in the right direction? And there began the first day of the rest of my life.”

Ready for the first day of the rest of your life? Contact me today, and start looking forward to a sober, happier, and healthier 2023 and beyond.