Early Recovery in Thanksgiving
Updated: Nov 12
The early stages of recovery can be really hard during the holidays. You are just learning how to cope with your sobriety, let alone socializing. Thanksgiving can be a challenge especially if it was your family or friends who influenced you to drink or use before. But there are a lot of ways to still enjoy the holidays and stay sober. Arm yourself with proper education and awareness to combat your issues during the Thanksgiving.
Establish clear boundaries with family and friends
When the Thanksgiving dinner is in someone else's house, it is harder to expect who or what will be present during the event. It is almost impossible to avoid seeing alcohol or drugs in the gathering. By being assertive enough, you can set healthy boundaries with them. Let the host know that you are abstaining and you are actually committed to being sober. If anyone disrespects your decision, be firm with your belief and leave immediately. This sends a message to people that you are really serious. However, you need to be assertive without offending your host too. Make sure that you and your family or friends understand the situation before diving into the social gathering scene. Not everyone will be supportive of your sobriety, it is important to keep a distance from these people. Always remember that the real ones in your life will support your journey for the better.
If you happen to attend Thanksgiving with some people you are not very familiar with, here are some tips for you:
Say not to anything that puts your recovery at risk.
Be mindful of where you put your drinks.
Be mindful of the things that people do during the party.
Find people who will help you be away from these bad influences.
Be committed to your recovery.
Be ready with your relapse prevention plan.
You are the only one responsible for your well-being. Going to a gathering ready with a plan prevents the chances of a full-blown relapse. Let your trusted loved ones know about your plan in the event that you slip. It is necessary that you do not ignore your warning signs. As someone who has suffered from addiction for a long time, you know in yourself what triggers you. It can be stressful interaction, seeing alcohol or drugs, being with the people you hang out with during the time you still use, and the likes. We have our different triggers and be alert to them. Be careful of what you say to your mind. Your thoughts can be detrimental when you are surrounded by your triggers. When you attend social gatherings, the tough questions and heavy emotions cannot be avoided. Keep in mind that it is not your job to satisfy the curious minds of the people around you.
Hosting the event is the best option
When you want something done right, do it yourself. Hosting can be the best option to reduce the chances of having to resist your urges. After all, prevention is better than cure. Thanksgiving is usually a potluck system. Make sure to set the expectation that some things are not welcome in your home. Maybe not all will be happy about it, but most would understand your decision and even be supportive of it. A little reminder can help them remember that you are currently on your sobriety journey.
Give back to others
Thanksgiving can be a good thing to give back to others, especially to those who are in need. This time of the year can be a humbling and cheerful experience but not for everyone. Changing your usual plans for Thanksgiving can be a good idea and it will also make sure that you will have a sober day. There are a lot of gatherings you can attend and you could also prepare for it weeks before Thanksgiving! It could be fundraising, bake sale, yard sale or volunteering in the church. The holidays are the best time of the year to commit yourself to be of service to other people who are in need. Helping others can be a really refereshing experience and it could take your mind off the pressure of having to attend parties that are full of things that you are trying to avoid.
The holidays can be a hard time for those who are still in their early recovery, as well as for those who are trying to sober for a long time already. The extra things we have to do and what we have to deal with while Thanksgiving add to the anxiety and stress. There will be awkward situations wherein you are asked uncomfortable questions or things that are sensitive to you. You are under no obligation to discuss your treatment, recovery, support meetings, or anything about your health, especially if it makes you feel tense. That is why you need to come up with a concrete plan on how you will spend your Thanksgiving. Do not depend on the "go with the flow" mindset because a lot of uncontrollable things can happen. Here in Caledonia Recovery Homes, we will help you or your loved one develop good coping mechanicsm to deal with hard situations without falling into relapse.