6 Tips for Surviving Your First Sober Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family, and loved ones to gather around the table and share in a traditional meal with one another. When put that way, it seems as though Thanksgiving should be something super simple and enjoyable, and for many people, it is just that. But, lots of families struggle to enjoy this day as they would like due to interpersonal reasons, physical distance, or even too much closeness. If you are experiencing your first sober Thanksgiving, you might also fear some challenges when it comes to this particular holiday. 

It is very difficult to gather exact (or even ballpark) numbers with regards to how many people get sober in a year in the United States. That is because sobriety is not as measurable as most other things, since it can ebb and flow for some. But, needless to say, there are thousands of people throughout the country who are about to embark on their first sober Thanksgiving, which is why it is important to know how to manage all that comes with it. 

6 Tips for Surviving Your First Sober Thanksgiving

With sobriety comes several obstacles, including how to get through holidays without being triggered to use again. If this is your first sober Thanksgiving, you might be especially nervous about what to expect from this day now that you are not utilizing drugs or alcohol to cope. Gratefully, there are a number of tips you can follow to help make this time of the year much easier and even fun. 

1. Ask For What You Need

No matter where you are going to celebrate Thanksgiving or who you will be celebrating with, it is important to be sure to ask for what you need on that day. For example, if you are going to your parents’ house for the day and are worried that the presence of alcohol will tempt you to want to drink, ask them to have a dry holiday. Those who love you are going to want to be able to support you in the best way possible, so being sure to make your reasonable needs known is imperative. This will also help to reduce some of the anxiety that you may be experiencing prior to the day of.  

2. Have an Exit Strategy

When you are sober and you have worked hard in your recovery, there is little that matters more than preserving that sobriety. You know that if you go back to abusing drugs and alcohol, that your life can immediately be put at lethal risk, nevermind any other negative consequences that may occur. If you are at Thanksgiving dinner and are feeling triggered or struggling with cravings, the best possible thing you can do is leave the dinner. No one ever wants anything like that to happen, but in the event that it does, having an exit strategy can be a lifesaver. Decide ahead of time how you may exit Thanksgiving if you are feeling uncomfortable. You do not need to tell everyone you are leaving because you are fearing relapse, but instead you can use whatever excuse you feel comfortable with. You do not owe anyone any explanation.

3. Prepare Your Coping Skills

There is no doubt that if you have gotten sober, you have developed a number of different coping skills. Before you celebrate your first sober Thanksgiving, be sure to freshen up on your coping skills so that you can be ready to use them in a moment’s notice. Do not wait until after the fact to lean on these skills, as doing so in the moment can help negate an otherwise slippery slope. 

4. Go to a Meeting

12-Step meetings, such as those offered through Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are a huge source of support for people in recovery. Chances are you are likely a member of AA or NA, too. On big holidays like Thanksgiving, there are several meetings that stay open for 24 hours straight, allowing anyone and everyone who is in need of extra support to be able to get it, regardless of time. Go to a meeting before you go for Thanksgiving dinner. Utilize the support within those rooms to help you remain solid in your recovery. 

5. Let Go of Expectations

Developing expectations can be a simple and easy way to get let down. If you go into your first sober Thanksgiving without any expectations of how it will go, you are more likely to be able to better manage the day. For example, if you set the expectation that there won’t be any alcohol at Thanksgiving dinner but when you arrive you see different, you can get angry and resentful and feel unsupported. Instead, go to Thanksgiving without that specific expectation to preserve your own wellbeing. 

6. Focus on Fun 

So much of the focus on Thanksgiving is given to alcohol and food. It can be extremely different to be sober at a time like this, especially if everyone’s main priority is alcohol and food. Plan some different events for Thanksgiving, such as family games or a movie night to help shift the focus away from things that could otherwise sway you in the wrong direction.

Addiction Treatment in Birmingham

If you are experiencing your first sober Thanksgiving, or if you are in recovery and preparing for this big holiday, be sure to reach out for the help and support you need. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to help you overcome your challenges with addiction so that you can begin enjoying the special moments in life once more. 

To learn more about how we can help, please visit our website by clicking here.


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