For people in early recovery, annual milestones and holidays are often the toughest. Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and other family celebrations that often involve alcohol or other drugs can cause discomfort, distress, and worry. People in early recovery, as well as their family members and other loved ones, can be paralyzed with fear and concern. They are worried that such situations can be so uncomfortable or cause so much stress, that the person new to recovery will get overwhelmed, unable to deal with the feelings of the situation, and ultimately relapse. And while these holidays and social gatherings are cause for concern, there is one event that often looms largest over the person in early sobriety: New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve (or as some call it “amateur hour” due to the amount of people drinking excessively) is one of the biggest partying days of the year. As the world closes out the previous year and rings in the New Year, it’s a celebration throughout every country and every society. Typically a festive day to party, drink, engage in drug use, set off fireworks to all hours of the night, New Year’s Eve may be the world’s biggest night to party and let loose. However, for those in early recovery from addiction, New Year’s Eve can be a night to fear. Fear not, however, as there are many things to do to celebrate the New Year while also staying on course in recovery and staying sober. While it may be uncomfortable to think about, millions of people around the world stay sober every New Year’s Eve, so those in early recovery can certainly not only do it but thrive while doing so.

For people in early recovery, there is an important balance to create between recovery and celebration, understanding that the two can go hand-in-hand. Especially for people in early recovery, there are some important things to consider for New Year’s Eve. The first is to make sure to put recovery first. This may mean planning the entire night with friends in recovery, checking out the meeting schedule or attending an Alcoholthon (many meetings or recovery clubhouses have 24-hour meetings during the holidays), checking in with a sponsor or other sober supports, and having a plan to support recovery if there are issues that come up throughout the night.

Once the recovery plans are in place, there are also some options to celebrate New Year’s Eve sober, or if one wishes, to celebrate a sober New Year’s Eve. Plans could be made with friends in the recovery community, where everyone at the party is sober and alcohol and drugs aren’t involved. However, if someone newly sober must attend a party or social gathering with family and/or friends that may be drinking or using drugs, there are some options to help stay sober while celebrating New Year’s Eve. This could include leaving if the drinking and drug usage gets out of hand, making a delicious spread of foods you enjoy and drinking mocktails, creating fun activities that you enjoy, or hosting the party and inviting many of your sober friends who can all support each other.

Regardless of plans, there is little doubt that a fun and sober New Year’s Eve can be had by all. Hopefully, the person newly sober has taken action in recovery, become comfortable with themselves and who they are, and is able to hold limits and boundaries regarding social situations where people are not sober. Additionally, hopefully they have learned that sobriety is not boring and often even more fun than when drinking or using drugs. However, if the person new to recovery is on shaky ground, it is vital to keep their recovery plan and sober supports close. Remember, leaving a dangerous situation is always an option, or sometimes people prefer to stay in with a few close friends and let “amateur hour” playout. After all, for most people new to sobriety, they’ve certainly had a number of New Year Eve’s for the record books (if they’re able to remember them), so it’s not uncommon to sit it out and have a nice, quiet evening at home with friends. For many in early recovery, every night they partied like it was New Year’s Eve, so taking a safe and sober night in as the world celebrates the new year isn’t really missing much. Either way, it’s not difficult to have a fun New Year’s Eve while staying safe and sober.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual-diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (866) 929-4318 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at

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