Thanksgiving is the one time a year where we should spend being thankful for what we have. If you have been sober for a long time, you can use this holiday to think of all the challenges you have overcome to get to here. It is always possible to have a sober Thanksgiving where you can be with your friends and family without feeling the need to drink alcohol.
You may have been used to having a drink with your friends during Thanksgiving while watching the football game in the past. Of course, sobriety means letting go of those old habits and finding new ones. Think of all of the times when you were younger or before you started experimenting with alcohol. Think of how happy you were with your friends and relatives and all of the laughs that you had together with no alcohol in your system. If you were capable of being happy without the alcohol before on Thanksgiving, the chances are that you can feel that way again. Maybe you have felt like you had to drink during the time of Thanksgiving because there will be relatives at your house or someone else’s house that you have gotten into fights with. That in order to be more relaxed around people you are forced to speak to, alcohol will help you loosen up.
The truth is that alcohol will cause you to lose your inhibition which will make it easy for you to humiliate yourself if you act unusual and you might hurt someone’s feelings by saying something that you do not mean. You need to let go of all of your bad experiences from the past and to just focus on what is happening now. Do not anticipate what the day is going to be like as you can never predict what will come. Just because you had a bad holiday last year does not guarantee this year will be the same or worse. It is important to give each year a chance.
Plan ahead before the holiday begins. You should go to a 12 step meeting before the big Thanksgiving dinner. You can let others know about your fears going into the holiday and the best way to cope with stress. People who have been in your shoes before during this time of the year can give you tips on what to do. There is never a holiday away from doing what you need to do when you are in recovery which includes going to your meetings. You can also think of these meetings as a safe haven if you feel too overwhelming during the holiday that you need to leave and be around those who understand what you are going through.
You should also make sure that you have cab money on you in case you need to leave early, have a friend or relative that is free to pick you up, and make sure your credit card information is already in your Uber or Lyft app so that it is ready to use. Even though a Thanksgiving dinner is a big meal, eat small meals before dinner as low blood sugar will lead to increased anxiety which will make you more vulnerable to relapse. Stay away from sugary snack and eat more lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. You should also remember that you are under no obligation to go to a party if you are not ready. One party is not worth slipping back to old habits.
When it is time for the big Thanksgiving dinner, bring a non-alcoholic drink with you like water, ginger ale, apple cider, soda, juice, etc. Make sure that you hold onto your drink at all times in case someone tries to spike it or to help prevent temptation. With your own drink in your hand that you know is safe, this is a real reminder that this is what you ought to be drinking. That way, you cannot use the excuse that you had no choice but to drink what was available. Just a one time use can lead you back to relapse.
You are under no obligation to tell anyone that you are in recovery or what happens to you when you do drink if someone pressures you. You can just give a simple “I just do not feel like drinking right now.” Not drinking alcohol at a party is not the end of the world and you should not feel like you need to have alcohol to feel good. Stick with what your conscience is telling you and do not drink. It also helps you to identify triggers that you may experience during Thanksgiving. Maybe an argument that you have had with certain relatives cause you to be stressed. There may be toasts during dinner or a keg of beer for the football game. If the football game is after dinner, then leave after dinner and make sure to toast with the drink you came with.Try not to say more than a few words to stressful relatives and bring a sober friend with you on Thanksgiving so that your friend can talk you out of drinking alcohol if you feel tempted. Lastly, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you are most thankful for. Be thankful in being alive to celebrate this joyous holiday and for all of the hard work you have done.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 888 570 7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.