When considering the challenge of remaining sober through the holiday seasons, it might be tempting to think of Thanksgiving as the tamest of the bunch. In many ways, Thanksgiving represents a sumptuous spread of tasty dishes and family time.
But what about the holiday toast at dinner, the free-flowing wine and other alcohol that accompanies wall-to-wall sports events on TV? What about the family conflicts that can come up during the festivities? All of these make Thanksgiving just as complex to navigate as any other holiday. If you’re in the early recovery stage, we have some suggestions to help you stay focused on your sobriety during Thanksgiving celebrations
Managing recovery prior to Thanksgiving
As we head straight ahead into the holiday season, it’s a good idea to anticipate the triggers that we could face. Whether it is Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, it is best to plan accordingly for each holiday.
Some actions to take as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches include:
- Attend extra meetings: It is helpful to attend some extra recovery meetings prior to a potentially triggering event. Spending some time with peers in recovery allows you to share about any problems that may come up and your plans to overcome
- Practice more self-care: Because the holidays can evoke stress, a significant trigger for relapse, it helps to manage stress levels Before the holiday, take some yoga classes or spend time in meditation to help reduce stress levels and help you feel calm and at peace.
- Consider skipping the event: If you feel you are not yet ready to join a family gathering, then consider attending next Your family members will understand that you need a little more time. If you still want to celebrate the holiday, make plans with a sober friend instead.
3 tips to manage recovery during Thanksgiving celebrations
Whether or not you attend a Thanksgiving party is something each individual in recovery must decide. Your decision needs to take into account how healthy your family dynamic is, as well as the state of your recovery.
If you do decide to join a Thanksgiving gathering, here are some helpful tips:
- Bring your own beverages: In an ideal world, your family will decide to host an alcohol-free Thanksgiving. If not, arriving at the gathering with your nonalcoholic beverages in tow will help you navigate the event. Bring the ingredients for a special holiday beverage and you might be surprised at how many will want to try it. How about pumpkin-spiced latte, warm apple cider or a festive mocktail?
- Have an exit plan: Planning is everything when it comes to the holidays and maintaining sobriety. Go through scenarios that might pose a risk to your recovery and create a risk-mitigation plan. If you encounter a trigger, have an exit plan in place.
- Have your support system on call: If you are newly sober, getting through the holidays will be easier if you keep your support system close at hand. Let your sponsor know that you are planning to attend a Thanksgiving party so they will be aware and ready to answer your phone call if the need arises.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on your blessings and feel a deep sense of gratitude for having achieved sobriety. With some careful planning and a commitment to prioritizing your recovery, you will find creative ways to enjoy the holiday.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.