Mental Health and Addiction Expert, Ben Brafman, Offers Tips for a Sober NYE

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New Year’s Eve presents extra challenges for those in recovery from addiction.

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP

You must remain active in your recovery, especially during times of the year that may trigger memories of substance abuse.

In his 20 years as a mental health and addiction expert, Ben Brafman has seen the challenges that New Year’s Eve can bring for clients in recovery. As the founder and CEO of Destination Hope, Destination Hope: The Women’s Program, and the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, Brafman is experienced in helping people recovering from addiction get through the holiday season with their sobriety intact.

“It doesn’t matter whether someone’s been in recovery for 3 months or 30 years, recovery is still an ongoing process, said Brafman. “You must remain active in your recovery, especially during times of the year that may trigger memories of substance abuse.”

New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be a boozy celebration. Here are some of Brafman’s mental health and addiction expert tips for maintaining sobriety while still enjoying yourself.

  •     Preparation: Plan in advance exactly what you’ll do on New Year’s Eve, from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. With your hours accounted for, you’re less likely to indulge the triggers for substance use.
  •     Bring a sober friend: If you do plan to attend an event where alcohol will be served, recruit a sober friend to come with you for moral support.
  •     Go to a meeting: During this time of year, attending recovery meetings could be more important than ever. If possible, plan to go to a meeting on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
  •     Touch base with your support network: Make a list of names and phone numbers of people you can call if you’re facing a challenge. This could include your mental health and addiction expert, a sponsor, family members, friends – anyone you trust to support your recovery.
  •     Think of the consequences you’ll avoid: Staying sober doesn’t equal not having fun. In fact, sobriety means that you’ll save money, keep a clear head, and wake up feeling alert without having to wonder what happened the night before.
  •     Stay on task: Remember why you chose a life of recovery. If you need to, write those things down and carry them with you, pulling the list out as a reminder if you feel the urge to use.
  •     Keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand: If you already have a glass of juice, soda, or seltzer in your hand, others are less likely to offer you a drink. In turn, you’re less likely to accept.
  •     Start new traditions: Challenge the status quo by coming up with your own tradition for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You could participate in a fun run on January 1st, which could give you further motivation to stay sober the night before.

“Changing your habits takes practice, whether it’s learning to enjoy a New Year’s Eve party without alcohol or getting up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym,” said mental health and addiction expert Brafman. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Eventually, a sober New Year’s Eve will feel so good, you won’t want to give it up.”

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Alton Smith