family having a meal

family having a meal

Thanksgiving is a time to connect with family and friends that you may not have gotten the opportunity to see as frequently throughout the year. While this can be a fun and relaxing time, it can also create stress and anxiety. Sometimes you don’t see certain friends and family as consistently throughout the year for a reason.

Being in situations that create stress can also create the impulse to want to use, and without preparation, you might become tempted to participate in drinking and using other substances. Stress that causes you to ignore your recovery needs is not acceptable. Let’s take a look at how you can lay some of the groundwork before this Thanksgiving to give you the best opportunity to have a happy and sober holiday.

Prepare to Answer Questions About Your Sobriety on Holidays

The holidays and recovery, in general, can bring about conversations that you dread. You might wonder why so many people are interested to know why you are sober? The thought alone can create anxiety. The truth is, it’s nobody’s business but yours. Therefore, preparing your mind to commit to giving short answers can empower you to address these questions and move on. You might reply, “Not drinking makes me happier.” Further, you can disclose as much as you feel comfortable with, but it is not necessary. You know why you no longer drink or use and that’s all that matters.

Turn to Support During the Holidays

Having someone on your side, be it a family member, friend or peer from a support or therapy group can go far in helping you feel comfortable and in control. Planning for Thanksgiving with a trusted friend can provide ways to help you out of a challenging situation. Therefore, if you experience urges or cravings, you can step outside or into another room and turn to this person. You will also have strength in numbers if another family member is probing too deep with questions. Your friends can come to your aid and help you out of the conversation.

If your friend is unable to be present, you should still have someone in the know who understands the challenges you might encounter. Even knowing that support is a phone call away can lend relief when situations become too much.

Make Sure You Have Options

Sometimes holiday gatherings don’t always accommodate sober people. Your options might be limited to water. Therefore, notifying the host before you attend can put them in the know to provide support and provide options. Further, if you have a favorite juice or soda, you might bring it along. However, be sure to ask the host if they can set it aside because sometimes others at the dinner might think it is fair game.

Alternatively, if you want to have a sober Thanksgiving, you might consider hosting yourself and with fellow peers. Doing so will ensure that there are plenty if only, sober options. Further, if you cannot host but are still worried about seeing certain friends and family, you can consider attending virtually. While it might not be your preferred way, you can control your environment and still connect with friends and family by attending virtually.

Have an Exit Strategy

Perhaps the biggest relief you can bring yourself when in a stressful environment is knowing you have a way out. If possible, drive yourself. Driving yourself will ensure that you can leave at any time and since you are the designated driver, you are more likely not to participate in drinking. You can also make plans with sober friends after the event.

Knowing that you will see sober friends will not only give you a valid excuse to leave, but you can look forward to connecting with these friends to express any stress accrued during the gathering. Sometimes, knowing you have a supportive place to go can be all the support you need to get through the event. If possible, attending a support meeting before or after dinner can reinforce focus and accountability.

Start New Holiday Traditions

Most people partake in the same traditions for Thanksgiving year-in and year-out; however, there are no rules that suggest you need to adhere to these traditions every year. Start your own traditions. Instead of drinking and watching football, propose playing a board game after dinner. Participating in games is a great way to get everybody engaged in a positive way.

Being of service to others is always helpful to your recovery and your spirit. However, some family members might not be willing to change, and you should not try to use your energy to change them. Instead, you can start your traditions with your peers. You might focus on participating in volunteer efforts during Thanksgiving. You can also plan a trip with sober peers, friends and family members who don’t require alcohol to be part of the celebrations.

At Associated Behavioral Health Care, we help individuals managing addiction, and being a pillar of support throughout the holiday season is no exception. If you are currently under the weight of substance use disorder or managing sobriety, our resources remain here for you. Find out more and contact Associated Behavioral Health Care today by calling us at (844) 335-7384