It's interesting to me how every December, as the holidays are upon us, there are endless segments on television or in magazines about holiday parties and the promotion of drinking. There's always a recipe for some fancy, alcoholic concoction and they're practically and sometimes literally saying, "Come on, drink!" as if everybody drinks.

It's shocking to me, in this day and age, that there isn't more mention or consideration of those that might be sober… and not because they're the person that 'just doesn't care for the taste of alcohol', but because they've had an actual life or death struggle with the thing.

Not that others are responsible for the non-drinker or needs to coddle them, in fact most of the time they don't really need anything special at all. However, the non- alcoholic drink reminder in these segments is usually relegated to the children in attendance at holiday gatherings, which can be so demeaning, rather than as a way to be conscientious of or acknowledging the recovering alcoholic or addict. As a society we might want to consider those among us that have had problems with substances or simply choose not to drink.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use & Health, in 2010, 17.9 million Americans (7.0 percent of the population) were dependent on alcohol or had problems related to their use of alcohol (abuse). That's a hell of a lot of people.

This holiday let's consider more carefully those that might not indulge, but still want to be a part of the fun. Keep in mind that the degree of sensitivity is probably relevant to how long the person has been sober; someone with 20 years of sobriety is probably more adept at handling these social situations than someone who is newly sober.

A couple of quick tips for how you can help:

  • Reach out to the recovering person and let them know they are welcome.
  • Avoid bringing attention to a friend's recovery or treating them differently.
  • Be understanding if a recovering friend declines an invitation to join your party, where the temptation to indulge may make them uncomfortable.
  • Offer to celebrate the holidays with that person by meeting for coffee or desserts. Provide "safe" party alternatives such as non-alcoholic beverages.