Thanksgiving is already here, and those who are in addiction recovery tend to wonder how to stay sober amid the holiday celebration.
In this article, we’ve detailed a few helpful tips to keep in mind the next time you’re in need of preventing relapse during this joyous time.
Holidays are often used as excuses people use to behave in ways they wouldn’t ordinarily behave. One report shows 86 percent of millennials overspend during the holidays. Retailers implement marketing tips that make it easy to say yes, yes, yes, to their offers.
Also, during the holidays, people socialize more than any other time of the year and lose sleep to attend parties and events. People find themselves waiting in line longer, over-indulging in food and drinks, buying and wrapping gifts for people we don’t even know that well.
The Thanksgiving holiday is no different. From buying and cooking an oversized turkey to preparing ten too many side dishes to venture out the day after Thanksgiving to shop black Friday sales, buying stuff we don’t need, we overdo it.
For many, drug and alcohol abuse may increase during this time also. If you are trying to stay sober, it can become difficult to avoid using when everywhere you go; you are bombarded with triggers.
However, there are ways you can stay sober this Thanksgiving.
Stay in Sober Living
It is 100 percent okay to move into a sober living environment during the holidays. This shows your sobriety is a priority. It shows you understand the holidays are temporary and recovery is a lifelong process. Any help you can get during the process is beneficial.
Sober living gives you accountability. If you attend a party, you are more likely to stay sober when you know you will return to a stricter sober environment after leaving the party. You may even be able to find other things to do with sober peers instead of attending parties where alcohol or drugs may be present.
Sober living also gives you a place where you can address your fears over relapsing during the holidays, as well as setting goals to prevent relapse.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to avoid holiday activities altogether. Sober living can help you do that.
Increase Meeting Attendance
You are not alone in your fight to stay sober during Thanksgiving. When you attend support group meetings, even online meetings, you are introduced to many others struggling also. Some people in recovery get so busy during the holidays they put going to meetings on hold. This can jeopardize your sobriety.
This year, try doubling or even tripling the number of support meetings you attend. If you need a meeting two or three times a day, that’s okay. Once the holidays are over, you may not need as much support. Attending more meetings is much better than finding you need to return to rehab due to a relapse.
If you try to “wing it” during the holidays, it will be more challenging to stay sober than if you are prepared. Attend holiday parties with a plan of escape and a backup plan for your plan of escape. Take a sober friend with you to parties, have a special code that says it is time to leave, then leave.
If your sober partner relapses, you need a backup plan to follow, so you avoid relapsing too. Put sober supports on speed dial. Set short time limits for how long you can stay at a party and stick to them.
Preparation must include realistic, honest steps to help you stay focused.
Keep It Real
Keeping it real when trying to stay sober during Thanksgiving can mean staying focused on the holiday’s real meaning.
All the partying, gift-giving, and over-indulging does not represent the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Today, Thanksgiving seems to have taken on a new meaning: time off from work filled with extreme behaviors.
This year, stay focused on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Find ways to show gratitude. Give back to your community. Participate in selfless activities that give you a feeling of reward. When you turn down an invitation to a wild party to help feed the homeless, not only will you feel great, you may influence others to do the same.
Know When Not To Go
Don’t get caught up in putting your sobriety at risk because you feel as if you need to please friends and family. You need to please yourself by preventing relapse. If this means you must avoid holiday celebrations, that’s okay. Saying no can increase your confidence and strength, but it takes practice. Start practicing this tool now.
Here is how you know when to say “No” to risky activities that may cause a relapse:
If you feel a sense of dread surrounding the activity, don’t go. Moreover, if you experience negative emotions when you think about the event, don’t go. If you begin obsessing over relapsing or being around other people who are using, don’t go. If you feel stress about the event, even a little bit, don’t go.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
You have family and friends who love you and support your sobriety. You may have some that don’t. Either way, none of them are mind readers. They don’t know how you feel. You must tell them.
Being honest with someone can save a lot of drama and turmoil. Rather than just skipping a party, explain to the host why you are skipping the party. People who care about you will understand. People who love you and want you to succeed will encourage you to miss the party. They may even create two parties or change the party to a sober party just for you.
But, they don’t know how to act unless you tell them how you feel.
Maintaining sobriety can be hard enough without the lure of holidays like Thanksgiving. The consequences of relapse will last long after the holidays and will affect everyone in your life. You can start preparing for how you will cope during the holiday season now.
Reach out for help from addiction specialists — research living in a sober home for support. Communicate your needs. Asking for help is a sign of strength. And there are many people eager to help you.