For many people in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, Thanksgiving can be a difficult time. It is important to remember that you are not alone. According to a survey reported by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, in the United States alone there are more than 23 million people in recovery from substance addiction.
There are as many ways to approach a family get-together as there are numbers of people in recovery. For some, attending family functions is the right choice. For others, it may not be. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about the situations that put your recovery at risk. Plan ahead to minimize or avoid any situation that might endanger your sobriety.
Six Tips for Having a Sober and Happy Thanksgiving
1. Be Realistic and Honest
In most cases, honesty is the best policy. Tell your family and friends about your drug or alcohol addiction and recovery. Clearly explain your rules and boundaries to them. You are different now that you are sober, but you have to give your family and friends a chance to experience and see the difference. Don’t be discouraged if your family doesn’t automatically change the way they interact with you. They may need time to believe that you’ve changed. .
2. Review Past Thanksgivings
If your Thanksgiving plans include being with family or friends, take the time to review your past holidays with them. Were they typically stressful, or did you feel at ease? Was there a lot of drinking? Were drugs available? Did family members fight or bring up hurtful things from the past? By reflecting on past holiday gatherings, you can identify situations or people that may trigger a relapse. Then, you can make a plan to minimize those triggers.
3. Have Your Support System Ready
Tell your sober friends and support group your plans and talk about any problems that occurred in the past or could occur this year. Make sure to have a person you can call if a problem arises or things become difficult. You could even bring a supportive friend with you as your guest.
4. Plan Your Arrival
Since you have reviewed the past holidays, you are aware of where and when you could feel anxious, angry, irritated, or stressed. You can decide whether it’s better to arrive early or later; how long you can comfortably stay; or whether you should go at all.
5. Plan Your Exit
Before the event, know your limits. Plan to stay only as long as you feel comfortable and safe, and tell your family or friends what you think will work for you. Explain that you might need to leave unexpectedly if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
6. Decide Not to Attend
If you decide that attending the traditional Thanksgiving gathering will not work for you, research sober holiday events near you, make plans to share the holiday with others who support your sobriety, or spend the day volunteering at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Do what will feel rewarding and fill you with gratitude.
Thanksgiving is a day for thankfulness and gratitude. By planning ahead you can relax, be grateful, and enjoy your holiday.
Help Is Available
If you or someone you know needs help because of an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call and speak to a qualified professional at English Mountain Recovery in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. They will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have. The professional staff will provide you with the tools you need as they guide you through your recovery process so you can live a sober, clean, and healthy life.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.