When someone is in recovery from alcohol use disorder, anticipating the Thanksgiving holiday can be quite stressful. Because alcohol is often served in abundance at many Thanksgiving dinner tables, you have good reason to be concerned about your ability to resist taking a drink. So, if you want your first sober Thanksgiving to be a success, you need a plan.
Don’t forget, you’re not alone. Many other people in recovery will be worried about staying sober for Thanksgiving. The key to successfully navigating the day is to be prepared for all possible outcomes.
We want you to enjoy your holiday feast without undue pressure, so here are 7 tips for a sober Thanksgiving that can help keep you on track.
#1. Think Positive Thoughts
Having a positive outlook can help to minimize the annoyances and stress that arise in family gatherings. If you feel overwhelmed, remember the coping skills you learned in rehab and put them to use. Staying sober for Thanksgiving won’t be easy, but you shouldn’t let negative thoughts make things worse.
#2. Choose Sober Activities
If you aren’t ready to mingle with people who are drinking, it’s okay to gracefully turn down the dinner invitation. Ask members of your support group to plan a sober dinner, or throw your own sober Thanksgiving feast. Other options include visiting a pumpkin patch, going for a hayride, or going camping. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for the holiday. Services like these always need extra help, especially this time of year.
#3. Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Beverage
Most people serve non-alcoholic beverages in addition to beer or wine, but you may prefer something different than what they offer. Plan to bring your own alcohol-free beverage just in case. If you already have a drink in your hand, people will be less likely to encourage you to drink what they are drinking.
If you choose not to attend the festivities but want to be around people, try to find a sober bar in your area. A sober bar exclusively offers non-alcoholic beverages. They are a safe space where people can socialize without getting intoxicated. Among the colorful alcohol-free drinks are mojito cocktails, Shirley Temples, and other unique mocktails.
#4. Attend a Support Group Meeting Beforehand
If you feel that you can’t skip the Thanksgiving get-together, arrange to attend an extra support group meeting before the day arrives. This extra support will be invaluable to staying sober for Thanksgiving. Knowing that others are stressed about the holiday can give you a little more motivation to stay sober.
#5. Bring Your Own Transportation
Don’t go to the event expecting something negative to happen. But, prepare yourself just in case. For instance, bring your own car so you leave if you need to. If you don’t have a car, make sure you have money to pay for a cab or Uber. Or, make arrangements with a sober friend to pick you up if the need arises.
Another alternative is to bring a sober friend or relative with you. With a like-minded person nearby, you won’t feel isolated from the crowd and feel tempted to join in their drinking activities. Having someone to talk to will help you relax and have fun instead of worrying about being perceived as rude.
#6. Sit At the Kiddie Table
Most family Thanksgiving dinners include small tables for the kids and you can be sure alcohol won’t be served at this table. So, tell the host you’d like to sit with the kids. Who knows? You may end up having a better time with them than you would have had at the adult table. Spending time with kids can have a magical effect during the holidays. Their enthusiasm and excitement about the season are contagious and will encourage positive thinking.
#7. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
This tip may sound cliché, but it is a proven technique. Focus on the things you are grateful for now and include things you can look forward to in your sober future. Feeling grateful reduces stress, which is the main cause of relapse. Although your first sober Thanksgiving will be stressful, ending the day sober can be an uplifting experience.
Design for Change Wishes You Continued Success in Your Recovery Journey
While in recovery, you’ll experience many firsts. We hope your first sober Thanksgiving is just the beginning of a rewarding recovery journey. You worked hard to overcome the powerful grip of alcohol, and that determination will get you through future stressful situations that threaten your sobriety.
At Design for Change, we understand how difficult it can be to remain sober during the holidays. Hopefully, the seven tips above will help you stay on track and continue to enjoy your newly gained freedom from alcohol or drugs.
If you know someone who needs help for substance use disorder, have them contact Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA today. One of our knowledgeable representatives will conduct a confidential assessment and suggest an appropriate treatment plan. We offer a fully-licensed, evidence-based program that can be customized to meet each client’s specific preferences and requirements.