How to Stay Sober on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, to be surrounded by loved ones, and to reflect on life’s many blessings rather than its downfalls. Of course, food is always part of this equation, but for somebody battling addiction, these otherwise enticing qualities are more so dreaded than they are anticipated. Even for those who believe they have a problem but have not taken action yet, this time is stressful and prompts them with a temptation they would otherwise avoid. What is this group of people to do, though? Surely this time is unable to be avoided, but there is a multitude of options available that helps an addict stay sober on Thanksgiving. Before all else, though, it is fundamental to recognize potential triggers and reasons why you would ponder a relapse rather than the important sobriety.
Thanksgiving Triggers for the Recovering or Road to Recovery Addict
Most consider this holiday a stressful time for a cornucopia of reasons, even if they have never abused a substance in their lives. Typically, multiple people are gathering to celebrate, which can pose problematic when factoring different personality types, past disputes, failing to please the unpleasable, and the tedious tasks of cooking and cleaning. Aside from these realities, the following are considered triggers for addicts:
- Family: Surely you love your family, but you might not be able to like them all of the time. Families are often the biggest critics and can be fairly relentless at times. As a result, it is immensely stressful to be surrounded by people who want the best for you, but who also stop at nothing to be fairly judgmental and unaware of your current struggle.
- Large Crowds: It is common knowledge that most of the public is made uneasy by large crowds. Social anxiety is a notable issue and a reality that poses more difficult for somebody recovering from addiction.
- The Desire to Please: Sitcoms, books, talk shows, and popular jokes all depict the stresses of the holiday season, most of which surround the desire to please certain relatives and guests.
- Vices: Regardless of what you or a family member used to be addicted to, it is fundamental to recognize that other vices are problematic as well. Chances are, guests will be drinking during this time, taking their prescription medications before dinner, or even smoking outside. Being in the presence of these things is difficult for those in recovery, regardless of how long they have been clean.
- The Meal: Perhaps you are responsible for the entire meal or a portion of it. Maybe you are responsible for ensuring that the guests have all that they need. Responsibility is stressful and perhaps the biggest trigger of all.
There are countless triggers for those in recovery, most of which are dependent on the person. Thankfully, there are ways to stay sober during this troubling time and most of them require very little effort in order to execute.
Planning Ahead with Meetings
Recovery centers understand the need for more support during these holiday celebrations. Whether they offer more meetings during the month leading up to Thanksgiving or provide their patients with the numbers to help hotlines or their personal numbers, these places understand the need for support to be readily available at all hours of the day and night. Consider frequenting these meetings before the holiday and expressing every possible concern and listening to those of others. If you were provided with a help hotline number, keep that close to you for the holiday.
Confide in Family
Are you especially close to a family member? Does this person listen to you rather than judge you? If so, stay close to them during the day. Never be wary of asking them to talk alone if you are feeling the urge to use, either.
Place Your Attention Elsewhere
There is no denying the difficulty behind remaining focused when you are attempting to refrain from relapse. However, you are prepared for this day and strong enough to conquer it. Rather than focusing on your urges, stay busy by helping with the meal, playing games, watching or playing football, or partaking in conversation. Whatever it is that you decide to do to remain grounded, repeat it throughout the day and attempt to enjoy it.
Take a Break
Even if you miss the first course, do not be afraid to take a break from what might be triggering you. If the noise is proving to be bothersome, remove yourself by going to the bathroom or another quiet room of the venue. Take a nap, read a book or magazine, or journal how it is you are feeling. Chances are, the company will understand your absence and be happy that you opted to take it rather than suffer through the trigger.
Ask and You Shall Receive
If you feel that you will be unable to enjoy this day or make it through without a relapse because of the other vices that may be around, do not be afraid to admit that and ask for the removal of a particular substance from the celebration, including alcohol. Usually, your family or friends would prefer your safety and wellbeing over their beverage.
Conclusively, staying sober on Thanksgiving is not impossible. The thought of anything seems far more intimidating than the action itself, a fact that should be more widely understood. For those in recovery, you are stronger than you believe and will enjoy this holiday just as you would any other. For those who love somebody in recovery, consider making this day stand for its true meanings of giving thanks, support, love, and happiness.