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The Importance of Celebrating the Holidays Sober as a Family

Written by: Melissa Lyon Edited by: Jonathan Strum

Teen enjoying Christmas lights during covid

The holidays are the perfect time for sharing traditions, teaching lessons and bonding as a family. It also creates a great opportunity to instill wisdom about the dangers of substance use.

It’s not uncommon for children to begin using dangerous substances as early as 12 years of age — among 8th graders in 2020, 20.5% drank alcohol in the past year, 11.4% used marijuana and 5.4% misused amphetamines. Central Florida also remains in an opioid crisis; in 2018, around 68% of drug overdose deaths in the state involved opioids like fentanyl or heroin.

As a parent, your behaviors, actions and words can directly shape your child’s development. During these formative years, you can help foster open communication and help your child avoid experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Here are a few ways you can do so during the holiday season.

Lead By Example

One of the best ways to lead by example during the holidays is to avoid drinking or drug use in front of your children. Save these adult celebrations for when you’re out with other adults. By avoiding alcohol or drugs during the holidays, you’re also removing the idea that the season is associated with substance use, excessive or not. Your children will look to you and, through your example, learn that holiday cheer is unrelated to using substances.

Group Activities During a Sober Holiday

When brainstorming for fun holiday activities, it may be best to think of ones that play to your children’s favorite interests. Writing Christmas letters to relatives or making paper snowflakes may not be the most thrilling activities for teens. Instead, think about what Gen Zers tend to enjoy — technology, video games and social media. 

There’s still plenty of family-focused fun to be had with these sorts of activities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Play a virtual party game, such as something from Jackbox Games, or pull out a family-favorite board game.
  • Make a funny family video or have a photoshoot — post on social media and watch the reactions roll in.
  • Throw a movie marathon with holiday classics, new and old. Don’t forget to make some festive treats to enjoy while you watch.
  • Play charades or other party games over Zoom or a similar video conferencing platform.
Of course, there are always go-to traditions that transcend generations, such as:

  • Hosting a Secret Santa event, which can work great virtually
  • Driving around and looking at Christmas lights
  • Baking and making holiday treats
  • Looking at family photos from past holidays
  • Decorating your home, inside and out
Related: How Do We Connect to Generation Z – How to Get Them to Care

Quick Tips for Helping Your Teen Avoid Alcohol or Drugs

If you are hosting a gathering, you may want to limit the amount of alcohol served or even make it a 100% sober event. If there is alcohol present, make sure that your children are aware that even though alcohol is legal for adults, it is still a dangerous and addictive substance

Fostering open conversations about drugs and alcohol with your children can make them more likely to come to you about issues they may be having with substances. It’s nearly impossible to stop your teen from doing something, but by guiding them, teaching them and setting a positive example through your own actions, you can influence how they respond in unsupervised situations where substances may be present.

If your child has developed an addiction or is struggling with substance abuse, Next Generation Village is here to help. Our multidisciplinary team of experts specializes in treating adolescent addiction, and our continuum of care includes evidence-based treatment programs designed to promote lifelong healing and growth. Contact one of our helpful representatives today to learn more about how our services can work well for your child.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Study: Surge of teen vaping levels off, but remains high as of early 2020.” December 15, 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Florida: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” April 3, 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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