Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If this is your first sober Thanksgiving (or one of your firsts), you probably have some hesitations over what the holiday could bring. While Thanksgiving isn’t as alcohol-friendly as Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, it still has its fair share of drinking. It’s the official start to the holidays, preceded by Blackout Wednesday and followed by a three-day weekend.
Since there are likely to be triggers surrounding this holiday, it’s important to be prepared, strengthen your support network and increase your self-care efforts. Below are some tips that will help you celebrate Thanksgiving in the happiest way possible - and all without drugs or alcohol.
1. Go Over Your Triggers
The first step is to do a quick inventory of your triggers. Knowing what people, places and things are stressful can help you make healthier choices. Remember, your recovery is your priority. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to certain events.
Some common Thanksgiving triggers include:
- Smell or presence of alcohol
- Seeing of a former drinking partner
- Stress, which kicks up during the holidays
- Revisiting negative connections
- Boredom - possibly several days off work
- Fear of missing out (FOMO) - not being able to attend Thanksgiving festivities
For the triggers that come up unexpectedly, put your coping skills to use. Deep breathing, texting a sober friend for support or simply removing yourself from the situation can help you cope without drugs or alcohol.
2. Don’t Show Up Too Early - or Stay Too Late
A quick bit of advice is to time your visit accordingly. A lot of drinking happens before and after the Thanksgiving feast, so try to limit your stay. Thanksgiving is about sharing a meal with friends and loved ones, so there is nothing wrong with coming shortly before the meal is served.
If you’d like to spend more time with your family, you can always help with preparing the meal, or cleaning up once everyone has eaten. This will give you more time together while distracting yourself from alcohol - and the conversations that go with it.
3. Bring Your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage
When you don’t have a drink in hand, people are more inclined to ask why. To avoid these uncomfortable questions, bring a non-alcoholic drink with you. Pick one of your favorites so that you have something tasty to look forward to - and bring extras so that you can share! There are many options available these days, ranging from flavored and canned waters to fruit and mint-flavored mocktails.
4. Refresh Your Boundaries
It’s especially important to have boundaries in place for the holidays, and the best place to start is with Thanksgiving. You can’t be everywhere, so practice saying ‘no.’ There are likely to be certain plans you have to turn down, especially if you know they won’t be good for your sobriety. Also, have an exit strategy in place. This way, if things get uncomfortable, you can leave when you want.
5. Invite a Sober Companion
Hopefully, you have someone in your family who will be staying sober. But if you don’t, bring along a sober friend, such as someone from your AA/NA meetings. Having a sober companion can be incredibly comforting - there is strength in numbers after all! Plus, they will hold you accountable for your choices, which can motivate you to be on your best behavior.
Enjoy a Sober Thanksgiving
There are many people choosing not to drink this Thanksgiving - you are certainly not alone! However, it’s normal to feel this way. The good news is that it does get easier, especially as you become stronger in your sobriety and establish your own traditions.
If you need additional support, contact Recovery Cove in Easton PA. We provide structured outpatient programs, which allow individuals to stay close to their families during the holidays while also getting essential support for a substance use disorder. Fill out our contact form or call us at 484-549-COVE.