Staying sober for the holidays: From mocktails to mental health, here are some tips

The holidays are high time for parties, parties, parties. And for adults over the age of 21, that often means alcohol.

For people trying to stay sober, or even limit their intake of alcohol, this season can be a difficult time as social drinking peaks. Benjamin Miller, a clinical psychologist who is the president of Oakland, California-based Well Being Trust, also said that the COVID-19 pandemic may amplify feelings of loneliness that could negatively impact mental health and lead to substance abuse.

“I would worry about folks that are disconnected from their loved ones, their inability to really connect and just be around the folks that they appreciate,” Miller said.

If you want to avoid alcohol, the best thing you can do is prepare, according to Heidi Taugher, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has a private practice in Folsom.

Planning everything from what drink you’re going to bring to a party to what you’ll say when someone offers you alcohol and when you’re going to leave is critical, said Taugher, who is also a clinical supervisor at a residential treatment facility, where she treats patients for mental health and substance use.

“You need to stay committed to your plan that you made before your emotional brain came on the stage and is having fun and could likely hijack you,” she said.

Here are several ways you can be better prepared to navigate this holiday season sober: