First Sober Thanksgiving
Many of us look forward to holidays like Thanksgiving because they give us the opportunity to indulge in our favorite foods or participate in beloved family pastimes. However, if drinking has typically been a prevalent part of your holiday traditions, you may be anxious about navigating your first sober Thanksgiving. Here are five tips you can use to make it through this holiday without compromising any of the progress you’ve made in recovery.
1. Make a List of Your Triggers
In addiction recovery, a trigger is anything that may jeopardize your sobriety by setting you up for a relapse. Specific people, places and events can all be triggering. Before a significant event like a Thanksgiving dinner, it can be beneficial to write down a list of all potential triggers and how you intend to deal with them.
For example, if you know going to an old drinking buddy’s house would be too much of a temptation, your best strategy may be to politely decline the invitation. On the other hand, it may hurt your family’s feelings if you tell them you aren’t coming to their get-together. In that case, make an exit plan, including rehearsing what you will say or do if you start feeling overwhelmed and need to leave early. Remember, your health comes first, and you should never feel guilty about protecting your sobriety.
2. Start a New Tradition
One way to make a clean break with the “bad old days” of active addiction is to start something brand-new that you can call your own. If you feel up for it, hosting a Thanksgiving get-together yourself is one way to control your surroundings and ensure nothing gets out of hand. Be sure to specify on the invitation that the event is alcohol-free, and plan low-pressure group activities like a movie night or a “Sidesgiving” potluck. You may even get further into the holiday spirit by recruiting your invitees to help you decorate your home for Christmas or Hanukkah.
3. Surround Yourself With Sober Supporters
It might seem like the best way to avoid holiday-related stress and temptation on Thanksgiving is to stay home and do nothing, but remember that loneliness and boredom are significant relapse triggers for many people. You can still have fun on Thanksgiving without drinking if you invite people from your sober support group who understand the challenges you are facing and the hard work it has taken you to reach this point. Consider bringing your sober sponsor as your plus-one to any holiday gatherings you decide to attend. You might be surprised how reassuring it feels to have other people nearby who aren’t drinking.
4. Sit at the Kids’ Table
If you aren’t comfortable explaining why you are not drinking, you can steer clear of the question by finding a seat at the kids’ table during dinner. If you enjoy spending time around children, you may also offer to help babysit younger kids at the event so their parents can relax a little bit. Bring age-appropriate games, books or movies to keep little ones engaged and happy. Looking after little ones is an excellent opportunity to make amends and demonstrate your commitment to setting a positive example for the younger generation.
5. Treat Yourself
Our final tip for making it through your first sober Thanksgiving is to give yourself something to look forward to after the holiday. Book an appointment for a massage, plan an at-home yoga retreat or spend the following day volunteering. Whatever you choose, make it something you know you wouldn’t have enjoyed if you woke up hungover and groggy from the night before. You’ll reaffirm your commitment to sobriety and practice self-care at the same time – it’s a win-win!
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