For many people, drinking alcohol has become synonymous with celebrating. A glass of wine here, a shot of tequila there and you are in the holiday spirit. Consequently, the festive season can be particularly stressful for those who are recovering from an alcohol addiction, and alcohol detox centers become more crowded as festivities start.

Although navigating the festive season without alcohol may seem like an impossible task, it can be done. We have compiled a few tips on how to stay sober when everyone else might not be.

Talk to Your Host

We all know that honesty is the best policy, and trying to hide your problems will only exacerbate them. If you have been invited to a family gathering or social event, talk to the host about your worries.

Be clear and concise, making sure to explain exactly why you would like them to remove alcohol from the menu. Don’t be confrontational – rather collaborate with the host and try and come up with solutions together. For example, offer to provide the drinks. That way you have control over what is being served while simultaneously making things easier for your host. Or perhaps you could offer to be the bartender for the night and try and impress people with your ability to make mocktails (this could either go very well and make people happy, or go badly and make them laugh – either way you win).

Bring a Sober Friend

Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to prevent alcohol being served at an event you are going to. However, you can bring along moral support. If you have a mentor, ask him or her to accompany you, or simply bring a friend or family member who has agreed not to drink. That way you wont seem like the odd one out, which is especially useful for those who which to keep their addiction private.

Remember, you do not have to share your reasons for not drinking if you do not want to. If you don’t want people asking questions or aren’t ready to refuse a drink, take some cranberry juice and put it in a wineglass – everyone will think you’re drinking red wine. Additionally, having a friend with you will provide you with another barrier between you and any alcohol, and you can always pull the ‘designated driver’ card.

Reach Out to Others

If you can’t find someone to come with you to events, it is still possible to reach out to others who are also struggling. There will be many people online or attending AA meetings who are also feeling the pressure to drink. Don’t let loneliness get to you. Oftentimes recovering alcoholics can feel estranged from the drinkers around them, and it can be especially difficult for those who have created traditions that include drinking. Try and break out of these molds, and connect with people.

You Can Say No

Unfortunately, there may be an event that you simply have to avoid. If you know that the people there will be drinking excessively, the safest thing to do is simply not to go. Although this may be upsetting for your friends or family, you must remember to put your sobriety first. On the other hand, if you do go to an event and it becomes overwhelming, always remember that you can leave. People are often more understanding than we give them credit for.

Read more about staying sober during the holidays.