Staying Sober During Thanksgiving

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated November 21, 2014

Every year, families throughout The United States gather together for one meal – but its not just any meal, it’s Thanksgiving Dinner! Whether your aunt and uncle drove in for just a few hours, or you are traveling up to your parents house for the entire week, people from all over make the effort to be with their loved ones and to reflect on what they are truly grateful for.

For many, this holiday is a tried and true favorite. For others, however, it can be viewed as a day that poses a few extra challenges.

Those who have been in recovery from drug and/or alcohol abuse might find the holidays to be a trigger of sorts – especially with so much chaos, family interactions, and gluttonous behavior. No matter how long someone has been in recovery, a holiday like Thanksgiving can put their sobriety in jeopardy if they are not prepared.

If you are one of these people, do not feel bad. Many recovering users find the holidays to be a difficult time to stay sober. The good news is, that despite some of the challenges you might face, there are a handful of things that you can do to safeguard your sobriety and in turn, keep your recovery on track.

For example, continue going to your AA or NA meetings – no matter where you are. If you are spending the holiday at home, do not flake out on your meeting just because your family might be in town or you want to participate in another event instead. Always put your recovery first, especially at this time.

If you are planning on being out of town for the holidays, do some preemptive planning and find out where the closest meeting is to where you are traveling. The doors are always open to you wherever you choose to go.

One of the best resources you can obtain at this time is a loved one who will be there with you on Thanksgiving Day. This could be a sibling, a parent, a spouse, etc. who knows what your triggers are, what you are most concerned about, and what kind of support you might need on that day. If you are feeling a loss of control at any time, you can always call on your support partner to help you through that moment until the craving subsides.

If you would rather have someone outside of your family serve as a source of support to you, utilize the help of your sponsor. Keep his or her phone number on speed dial so you can call him/her when needed. Talk with him/her before the holidays and let them know that you might need them to get through the day.

There is always something that you can do to protect the recovery you have worked so hard to achieve. Utilizing these helpful tips (and even thinking of some of your own) can do wonders for you not only on Thanksgiving Day, but also throughout the rest of the holiday season.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.