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How to stay clean and sober on New Year’s Eve

Getting clean and sober in a 12-step program means you hear a lot of sayings: One day at a time. Easy does it. Progress not perfection. Pause when agitated

The week between Christmas and New Years is about this saying: Change people, places and things.

Practicing this saying you learn that sobriety is about much more than not putting a particular substance in your body. It is about changing just about everything in your old life.

And this week is about the people, places and things that prevented you from getting clean and sober. 

Your people are those you hung out with – your drinking and drugging buddies. You used to hang out with them at your favorite bar, restaurant or apartment. and revel in the company of your drinking anon with 

You did things like sit in front of a big screen TV, drinking beer and smoking pot while playing video games or watching a football game. Those things have to change. 

Sobriety just got real – and really difficult.

You may have to cut people you care for out of your life. People you have known a very long time and have shared great memories. This is especially important in early recovery. Be honest. Just tell them you really want to stay clean and sober and being with them right now is difficult. 

Don’t tell them or yourself that you are cutting them out of your life forever. You are not. Just for today. You can always keep in touch with a phone call or on social media. 

One day you may be able to hang with them when your sobriety is stronger and you don’t hang with them while they are under the influence or drinking and drugging.

Who knows? Your sobriety may prompt them to look at their own drug and alcohol use. You may both end up clean and sober. 

You will make new, healthier friends. With them you will find healthier places to hang out: The gym. Funky coffee shops. Movies. 

Eventually, you may be able to go to a strip club for a sober friend’s bachelor/bachelorette party. You may be able to go back to your favorite bar or restaurant. But the clean-and-sober you should have a damn good reason to do so and should take a sober support with you.

Changing the things you do can actually be fun, like paintball – something you definitely cannot do drunk or high. Mountain biking. Basketball. Skateboarding. Movies. And you will be surprised how much money you have to go shopping because booze and dope are very expensive. 

But right now, you need to consider how you will change the people, places and things you do on New Year’s Eve. This is either the night you relapse or you really commit to your recovery.

You may have never experienced a sober New Year’s Eve. Today – December 26 – you still have five days to make a plan and find your new people, places and things to do.

You may not like it. But I can promise you this: You will start the new year without a hangover. You won’t spend New Year’s Day scrounging up some money and tracking down your dealer.

I think you are going to like it.

How to stay clean and sober on New Year’s Eve

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2016). How to stay clean and sober on New Year’s Eve. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 26 Dec 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Dec 2016
Published on All rights reserved.