For a lot of people, New Year’s Eve is the ultimate excuse to party hard.
Ah, New Year’s Eve. When I was active in my substance use, it seemed like the only night that the rest of society was as excited about partying as I was on every other day of the year. New Year’s can make drug users everywhere, whether reformed or not, pause to remember their crazy times on New Years’ past. For those of us who’ve changed our lives, we now face a new conundrum. What do you do on New Year’s, if you aren’t planning to get high?
I won’t be drinking or using drugs this New Year’s. I haven’t for many years now. No matter how well the party started, with music or friends, the party always ended with me looking for more more more. Usually alone. Usually sick. Now I not only have fun the night of, but I also remember it and have a great morning after!
So what can you do on New Year’s, if you aren’t planning to get high?
1. Accept that you might feel weird.
Changing habits takes time. We usually recognize that drug use is a habit. But did you realize that the excitement and anticipation about partying on holidays is also a habit? Changing it will feel uncomfortable, and the weird feelings might not dissipate right away.
2. Think about what you enjoy.
When you quit drugs, it can be difficult at first to even remember what you enjoy doing. This is because using impacts the reward centers in the brain. I used to think I would never love anything as much as I loved drugs. Now I know I love reading, writing, jogging very slowly, and incredibly dark movies. It took me a while after I quit to find all that out. Spend some time thinking about what you’ve enjoyed in the past and what you’ve always wanted to try, to uncover the things you enjoy.
3. Give up cool.
When I was drinking and using heavily, I had a big attachment to viewing my lifestyle and my scene as cool. It took effort to redefine what was cool in my own eyes, because I was so used to glamorizing my damaging lifestyle. (To be clear, being dopesick or running to the bathroom constantly from shitty coke cut with baby laxative is not cool.)
4. Choose companions that are a better fit for your new goals.
If you’ve decided not to do drugs, don’t go out with your using buddies. Instead, hit up those kids from high school you ditched because they seemed too square. Or ask your family if they’d like to have a New Year’s Eve dinner. That way, you won’t feel stressed about spending the night at home alone, but you’re also setting yourself up for success.
5. Search for a sober activity.
Don’t know of anyone who doesn’t drink or use? There’s an entire world of sober activities out there, from 12-step programs to church activities to recovery advocacy groups. Search for sober events in your area and check one out, or just join a sober Facebook group to test the waters. There are also tons of non-drinking, non-drug activities that aren’t specifically “sober.”
6. Block out your time.
If you do decide to spend the evening at home, pick activities you love and fill your night with them. This stuff doesn’t have to be complicated:
Choose a favorite Netflix show to binge (new season of The Witcher, anyone?) and give yourself permission to watch it all the way through.
Hit up a coffee shop and enjoy a fancy drink.
Deep clean like you didn’t all last year, decluttering from all those lockdowns. Making your home comfortable for 2022.
Need more ideas? Check out this Buzzfeed list of other activities to fill your time with that don’t involve drinking/using.
7. Reach out to a few people.
Have you lost touch with anyone in your life? The New Year is the perfect time to rekindle positive relationships. Give them a call.
You know when drugs have stopped working for you. If you’re tired of the struggle of needing drugs and never getting enough, getting off drugs is possible. Once, I couldn’t even imagine spending a New Year’s without drugs, yet now I’m grateful for the freedom I have each day without needing them. If you’re ready for a new way of life, it’s here for you.
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