Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for those in recovery, as many holidays can be. During these times, each person in recovery will have to deconstruct their expectations of the holidays and begin to establish new practices and traditions that can help support their continued sobriety. However, planning for Thanksgiving can take a lot of work in order to ensure that someone is minimizing their chances of stressors and establishing a set of coping strategies and contingency plans in order to remain safe through the holiday. While someone may feel as if their use of an addictive substance or behavior may be intricately linked to Thanksgiving, it is never too late to change traditions or create new plans that can help support ongoing sobriety while still enjoying the holiday.
Host the Holiday Yourself
If possible, one of the best ways to mitigate the chances of someone experiencing unforeseen triggers or stressors is to simply host the Thanksgiving feast at one’s own place, where they can then control the environment as much as possible. Hosting the event can help keep someone busy with cooking and serving for others rather than drinking, and can help someone be close to all of their coping tools, including a safe space for them to get away if needed. It can provide a great sense of purpose as a host, which can continually distract someone from the temptations of any alcohol present that would otherwise compromise one’s sobriety from drinking. By hosting one’s own party, it is even possible to let others know that there will not be alcohol present at all, and instead, it is strictly going to be a sober Thanksgiving, mitigating the chances that someone will assume otherwise, and putting the feast even more within one’s control.
It also allows someone to begin to create new traditions themselves. By hosting one’s own Thanksgiving, someone can set up outdoor activities or games instead of past traditions, such as watching sports. Past traditions may bring back memories of one’s engagement with an addictive substance or behavior, and thus may cause urges to re-engage with a past addiction if participating in these traditions. By creating new traditions, even with something as simple as playing a board game as a family, it is possible to ascribe new purpose and meaning to one’s Thanksgiving and create a holiday with a new feel that looks towards the future.
Plan the Whole Day
For those who cannot host their own Thanksgiving, it is still possible to enjoy the holiday. However, it does require some planning. It is important to have an idea of not just how dinner will look on Thanksgiving day, but also how the whole day may play out. By planning where someone is going to be at any given time, for how long, and with whom they may be sharing company, it is possible to get a good idea of the outline of the holiday. This can help someone structure their holiday, and decrease the chances of any surprises causing unwanted urges or stressors.
Planning also means having contingencies in place. Even if someone has practiced a number of coping mechanisms, it is still important to let others know that someone is attending a Thanksgiving party, especially if there are chances that alcohol may be present. Having sober participants aware of the party and ready by the phone can give someone the feeling of a safety net just in case urges begin to manifest. It is also beneficial to have at least one family member know that someone intends to remain sober, and can be an in-person support system for any difficulties that may arise. This kind of company and contact can also help someone create an escape plan in case things begin to feel too difficult, so someone can return to a safe space with supportive people rather than continue to put themselves in a risky situation.
Thanksgiving is a time of getting together, but that doesn’t mean that the holiday will look the same in someone’s new sober life. These changes in one’s traditions and expectations during the holidays doesn’t mean that someone is giving up on their traditions, but instead, taking a hold of what the holiday means to them and how they can continue to celebrate alongside friends, family, and loved ones in a safe manner. Hosting a Thanksgiving feast can give someone a sense of control over the food and beverages being served and help maintain a sober environment, and having plans in place can help keep someone supported through difficult situations and keep one’s sobriety at the forefront of their minds.
The holidays are an important time to get together, but they can also provide many stressors for those in recovery or struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one are struggling with a dangerous relationship with drugs or alcohol, or are feeling the stresses of maintaining your sobriety through the holidays, START UP RECOVERY can help you regain the sense of agency and skills needed to help you maintain your own sobriety. The atmosphere created for those living at a START UP apartment is filled with luxury and fellowship, providing someone with as much comfort as needed to explore their own vulnerabilities in their journey to sobriety. Each stay can be personalized, and new therapeutic options are constantly available in order to best help you achieve your goals and sense of self through the recovery process. For more information on how START UP RECOVERY can help you, call today to speak to a caring, trained professional at (310) 773-3809.