5 Tips to Drink Less During the Holidays from Oar's Ambassadors

Oar Health Editorial Team

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Dec 11, 2023

The winter holidays may be the happiest time of the year. But for many, they are also a challenging time to stick to a goal of drinking less or giving up alcohol altogether.

Holiday parties are often cocktail parties. Celebratory meals put alcohol on the menu and on the table. Reuniting with family can bring up complicated feelings. And even the most supportive family and friends may have traditions involving alcohol that go back decades.

But sticking to moderation or sobriety goals can make the holidays even more rewarding. Staying in control of one’s relationship with alcohol makes it easier to be present with family and friends, allows one to fully appreciate the season’s blessings, and is a great head start on a New Year’s resolution. So, we asked a few Oar Ambassadors to share their advice for drinking less or staying sober during the holidays. Read on for their top five recommendations:

1. Commit to a specific, measurable plan

“Take a moment to articulate your intentions. Speak them aloud or put pen to paper. By verbalizing or writing down your commitment to sobriety during the holidays, you're setting a powerful intention. This not only solidifies your decision, but also serves as a constant reminder of your goals.” — KS, Oar Ambassador

“Define what ‘drinking less’ means for you. Is it a specific number of drinks per week or event, or is it complete abstinence? Clear goals help you stay focused. Before attending a social event, decide how many drinks you'll have, if any.” — BU, Oar Ambassador

“The most important advice I have is to plan ahead. If dining out, check the menu before you go. Giving our brains a break (less decision making, less chance of impulsive choice) is an act of self-compassion.” — LU, Oar Ambassador

2. Tell supporters about your goals

“Let friends and family know about your decision. Support from loved ones can be incredibly helpful.” — BU, Oar Ambassador

“I am not shy about telling others that I have found a way to reduce my drinking, which has improved my health a lot. I know that not everyone is comfortable opening up about this, but you’d be surprised how much positive feedback you will receive.” — JA, Oar Ambassador 

“Consider sharing your goals with a trusted friend or family member who can serve as an accountability partner. Having someone who understands and supports your decision can make a world of difference. They can be your confidant during challenging moments and a source of encouragement when you need it most. Challenge a loved one to join you in this pursuit; facing the holiday season together can strengthen your resolve and create a shared sense of accomplishment.” — KS, Oar Ambassador

3. Substitute non-alcoholic beverages

“Ensure there are non-alcoholic beverages available. You can bring your own or ask the host in advance.” — BU, Oar Ambassador

“Find your favorite mocktail and get creative with it!” — DL, Oar Ambassador

“Anticipate situations where alcohol may be prevalent and plan accordingly. Have a non-alcoholic beverage in hand to avoid the pressure of holding an empty glass. If you're attending social events, let the host know about your decision beforehand, ensuring they provide non-alcoholic options. By planning ahead, you take control of your environment, making it easier to stick to your goals.” — KS, Oar Ambassador

Resource: 10 Non-Alcoholic Holiday Drinks You Need to Know  

4. Stick to your medication routine

If you have been prescribed medication by a healthcare professional as part of a treatment plan for alcohol use disorder, maintaining your medication routine during the holidays can help you stick to your goals.

"Continue to take your medication. Don’t beat yourself up if you forget, but I promise it’s gonna end up becoming a habit to you." — Oar Ambassador RD

“When on the medication, I find that I can delay my drinking. Before the meds, if I thought I wanted a drink, I would go grab one or usually more than one. Now I can wait and end up drinking less.” — Oar Ambassador KI

“Take your meds. The pills will help you not overdo it.” — Oar Ambassador ST

Resource: Learn More About Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

5. Keep busy and develop new holiday traditions

“Offer to cook, clean up, host the games, whatever. Keep your mind and your hands occupied.” — TR, Oar Ambassador

“I keep myself busy with my kids and family. None of what we do involves alcohol. In my younger years, going to parties this time of year was a major part of my life. But now that I'm a mom with a family, I'm grateful to have my time filled with alcohol-free activities that center on the health and well-being and safety of my children.” — AM, Oar Ambassador

“Practice taking extreme self-care during the holidays: extra rest, walks outside, yoga or meditation.” – LU, Oar Ambassador

“Shift the focus of your holiday experience from alcohol-centric activities to meaningful and enjoyable ones. Participate in festive traditions, embark on winter activities, or volunteer your time to spread holiday cheer. Engaging in fulfilling activities not only keeps you occupied but also enhances the joy of the season without the need for alcohol. Remember, embracing sobriety during the holidays is a gift to yourself.” — KS, Oar Ambassador

Whatever strategies you use to drink less or stay sober this holiday season, remember that you’ll be giving yourself some of the most important gifts of all — better physical health, stronger mental health, and a more authentic connection to those around you.

About The Author

Oar is a telemedicine platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence.

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