How To Have a Sober Valentine’s Day

Published on February 13, 2021 by First Responder Wellness

Whether you are in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and affection. While on the surface, this holiday can be consumed by flowers, cards, gifts, chocolate, and champagne, deeper sentiments—such as the importance of love—should be celebrated. For those in recovery from substance use disorder, navigating the holidays can be tricky, especially when celebrations often revolve around drinking. This can also be a challenging day for first responders who may have to work, postpone celebrations, or struggle to cope with job stressors.  

However you may be spending this day, it can be an opportunity to express love to those you care about. It can also possibly bring up negative emotions for those currently not in a romantic relationship. Many people may be hyper-aware of society’s pressure to have a partner during this holiday, and it may seem even more amplified due to social media. This can be a trigger for people to drink due to celebrating their partner or numbing their emotions. 

However, staying sober on Valentine’s Day is possible and can be a chance to use creative expressions of love for a partner, friends, and family. If you are self-isolating during this season in order to stay healthy during the pandemic, Valentine’s Day can give you an opportunity to practice self-love and kindness. 

Sober Activities

There are many activities outside of drinking that you can do with a partner or close friends in celebration of love, whatever your situation may be. 

  • Try a new restaurant or bring home takeout to enjoy a night at home
  • Cook a meal at home and make nonalcoholic drinks
  • Stream movies or shows with your partner and/or friends
  • Go hiking in a new place
  • Enjoy a picnic in nature
  • Go for a camping trip
  • Visit the snow
  • Enjoy a day at the beach
  • Discover a place with scenic views 
  • Go stargazing

If you are in recovery, it is essential to not let the pressure of this holiday cause you to worry about triggers. It can be a fun day to fill with love, friendship, and self-care. Whatever you choose to do, it can be a fun opportunity to plan healthy activities that both celebrate the day and support your long-term sobriety. 

Sober and Single

If you are in early recovery and single, it can be overwhelming to spend this day alone, but these intense feelings should not cost you your sobriety. It can be tempting to rush into a new romantic relationship this time of year. However, coping with negative relationships, hookups, or breakups can risk relapse. Instead, this can be a time to be thankful that you have the space to heal and practice healthy changes in your life. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are sober and single this Valentine’s.

  • Unplug from social media. Taking a break from being online can be refreshing. Avoid scrolling through endless photos of couples; instead, focus on yourself. Use the time you would have spent online doing something healthy and productive for yourself.
  • Practice positivity. Instead of glorifying being in a relationship, stay positive, and value the time and space you have to heal and practice self-care. Although it may seem like every other relationship you see is perfect, many can be complex, toxic, and harmful for mental health. The benefit of being single in early recovery is that instead of spending your time trying to make a new relationship work, you can work on improving yourself.  
  • Be your own date. Rather than worrying about finding a last-minute date for Valentine’s Day, be your own. Early recovery can be a great time to get to know yourself again and celebrate the progress you have made. Treat yourself, pamper yourself, and practice self-care.
  • Stay active. Staying busy and active on Valentine’s Day is a great way to keep your mind from wandering to negative places. Instead of staying at home and doing nothing, go for a hike, a drive, or complete your to-do list. If you’re at home, fill your time with activities you love to do or would like to try, such as journaling, reading a good book, trying out a new recipe, painting, or playing music.
  • Count on support. Having a strong support system is a vital part of recovery, no matter what holiday it is. If you feel overwhelmed and need help, reach out to your loved ones. This can also be an opportunity to attend a recovery meeting or hang out with other sober and single friends. Being around others who support you or others who are in a similar circumstance as you can be rewarding.


While going through the holidays sober can be challenging, it is up to you to maintain the commitment you made to yourself. Staying healthy and safe this holiday is possible and can be a time to truly celebrate what Valentine’s Day is all about: love and affection. You can celebrate the importance of love whichever way and to whomever you want. If you are spending this day alone, use this time to show yourself some love and respect by practicing self-care. This can also be a time to utilize all the healthy recovery skills you’ve been developing. At First Responder Wellness, we understand the disproportionate amount of stress that those on the frontlines experience. Often, the holidays can exacerbate these feelings and lead to emotional exhaustion. If you are seeking treatment for the first time or are looking for continued support after relapse, we are here to help the helpers. For information about our programs, call (888) 743-0490.