High or dry? A number of people stay sober for New Year's Eve
Jennifer Perry isn't much of a drinker. Never has been, yet she's ready every New Year's Eve for the inevitable attention when she's out trying to have a good time.
“I don't care if everyone at the table orders a drink but me. That's fine,” said Perry, 46, a singer in Atlanta. “What I do resent is being pressured, and then being asked is it a ‘religious thing' or if I have a ‘problem.' ”
Sometimes, she relies on: “Oh, thank you, but I'm still on methadone.” While not true, a quick apology usually ensues, and the pesky prober moves along.
Whether in recovery or not interested for other reasons, the holidays often mean an excess of booze and drugs. Occasional drinkers fail to moderate, and addiction programs around the country note upticks in patient loads soon after the new year, high season for relapsers and those seeking treatment for the first time.
“Alcohol is often center stage at holiday parties,” said Amara Durham, a spokeswoman for Caron Texas, a treatment facility in Princeton, Texas. “Many people think they need alcohol to enjoy social occasions such as holiday celebrations.”
Chapman Sledge, chief medical officer at Cumberland Heights, a center in the Nashville, Tenn., area, said loved ones hosting holiday dinners and parties should be sensitive to the difficulties of recovering guests.
“Stray comments like, ‘Just a sip of wine at dinner won't hurt,' or ‘It's a party, have a little fun,' even if they're unintentional, can slow or destroy an addict's recovery,” he said.
Gina Bestenlehner, who is 12 years sober and program director for the Pur Detox center in Dana Point, Calif., suggests bringing along a sobriety buddy to help stay focused. She also recommends volunteering as a designated driver, which “gives a person new purpose and a reason to be there sober. It also saves lives.”
Like other support groups around the country, the North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville hosts a sober New Year's Eve.
“Along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year's Eve is one of those holidays that we try to create community events for, because of their association with drinking and the stress of being in recovery and alone on them,” said Nasreen Stump, a fundraiser for the center. “In three years, our attendance at these events has almost quadrupled.”
In Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, Mary Baier is a non-drinker who will likely stay home with her husband this year for New Year's Eve. In the past, they've left parties right after midnight. “It's kind of hard to have a good time once people get drunk,” she said.
Cathy Griffin, 54, of Los Angeles has been sober for five years. “I'm a free woman now and go about my business and personal life wherever there is alcohol and barely give it any thought,” she said, “but in the early days of my recovery, it was hell!”
Instead of salivating while watching the wine meet the lips of the guy across the room, offer to help cut fruit and veggies or rinse some glasses, “anything to get your mind off the fact that you can't drink,” she said.
“Look for people who are not drinking to start up a conversation. Believe it or not, there are more people who are not sloshed than you might think,” Griffin added. “Make a game or a challenge out of finding the folks who are not drinking.”
And perhaps most important of all, she said, “Prepare before the battle.” Think about what you're going to drink before you get there. Stay away from caffeine-laden energy drinks and go straight to the bar and ask for a non-alcoholic beverage with a smile.
“I found, for me, I didn't have to stay all night,” Griffin said. “If I felt uncomfortable, even if it wasn't already midnight, I gave myself permission to leave or go outside and call a sober buddy, and most importantly, breathe — the moment will pass.”
Leanne Italie is a staff writer for the Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Munhall officials discuss communication problems, nonemergency phone numbers
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- McKeesport’s Neal to seek musical career in Los Angeles
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- West Mifflin prepares for first day of school
- NFL could delay punishment
- Kiski Area QB Kuhn steps into leadership role
- A fullback last season, Steel Valley’s Freeman takes over under center for Ironmen
- Steelers notebook: Keisel dresses, but doesn’t play
- Pirates’ Axford overcame long odds to reach majors
- West Mifflin Area solicitor steps down