The holiday season can be an especially challenging time of year for people in recovery. Though Thanksgiving is an occasion most people look forward to all year, you may be feeling stressed or anxious about it, especially if this is your first sober Thanksgiving. Alcohol plays a role in many families’ holiday celebrations, so you will need to have a plan in place for dealing with that trigger.
Here are five tips you can use to avoid cravings and build the foundation of your Thanksgiving strategy.
1. Know How to Talk to People About Your Recovery
Inevitably in recovery, you will encounter people who don’t understand the importance of preserving your sober lifestyle. At a gathering involving your extended family, you might end up meeting a cousin or uncle who isn’t aware of your newfound sobriety and invites you to have “just one drink” with them. Don’t be shy about advocating for yourself in these situations. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can speak up about your recovery goals. If you’re not, you can always politely excuse yourself from the conversation.
2. Have Your Sober Supporters on Standby
Let a few friends from your support group know where you are going and any specific challenges you’re worried about encountering. Have at least one person you can call or text if you’re going through a rough patch. Better yet, invite a sober friend to a Thanksgiving dinner where you know alcohol will be served. They can provide extra accountability and motivation for you to stay sober.
3. Bring Your Non-Alcoholic Beverage of Choice
Another way to control cravings is to whip up a batch of a festive non-alcoholic holiday punch and bring it with you to the get-together. Any younger family members or other non-drinkers will appreciate the change of pace from water or soda. If you keep your glass full of this beverage the whole time you’re there, nobody will think to ask if they can get you a refill of something alcoholic.
4. Know When You Need a Break
It can sometimes feel triggering to be around your family members. Maybe your sister-in-law gets a kick out of slyly criticizing your appearance, or your aunt likes to spend the whole dinner talking about her favorite political conspiracy theories. Whatever the case may be, if you feel yourself getting angry or stressed, excuse yourself and step away for a few minutes. Either find an empty room in the house where you can be alone, or take a walk around the block. Do a brief meditation or some breathing exercises until you feel your mind clearing.
5. Have an Exit Strategy Mapped Out
Depending on how long the party goes on, you may find it beneficial to leave early. Either park in a spot where it’s impossible for other party guests to block you in, or arrange to have a trusted friend pick you up at a specific time. You shouldn’t feel obligated to stay the entire time, especially if you’re feeling uncomfortable. It’s better to be the first to leave than it is to stay and risk temptation any longer.
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Vista Taos Renewal Center is a nationally accredited addiction treatment facility for adult men and women. If you’re looking for a comprehensive approach for treating a substance misuse disorder, reach out to us today.