You don’t need to have alcohol for a good Thanksgiving. If you are in addiction recovery, alcohol will not only complicate your day, but it will derail your program. With the significant holiday quickly approaching, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself for keeping your sobriety intact and have an excellent time as well.
Men in the first 365 days of recovery are entering the holiday season for the first time. Such people may not fully know what to expect, but it’s safe to say that many have some concerns. Some will be around family members this Thursday, which means there may be questions about why they are not drinking.
While your recovery is nobody’s business but your own, you may want to think about having something to say for any off-putting questions. Your closest family members may know you are working a program, but others may not. As such, the latter may encourage you to drink or inquire as to why you are teetotaling your way through the celebration.
It is reasonable if you do not feel comfortable divulging information about the path you are on. Having a script in the back of your mind can save you from having to answer uncomfortable questions. It may feel as though you’re dishonest when, in fact, you are merely guarding your personal health information.
You can say that you are taking a medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol. It’s also okay to say that you are working on being healthier and that you are more committed to exercise and diet than drinking. There is a myriad of acceptable responses to explain away your alcohol intake. Talk to your sponsor to discover how they handle unsolicited questions about sobriety.
Recovery Comes First Every Day
Thanksgiving shouldn’t be treated differently than any other day of the year. Those who work a program and are committed to a new path understand that recovery must always be priority number one. As the saying goes, ‘put your sobriety first to make it last.’
It’s challenging to prioritize recovery day in and day out, 365 days a year. However, the task can be even more arduous during the holiday seasons. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a time of added stress and unwanted emotions. Not everyone looks forward to the holidays, even if they are time for togetherness.
Many people in early recovery associate the holidays with unpleasurable memories. What’s more, not everyone in early recovery has their family back in their lives. The thought of not being welcome at the family table can be hard to stomach. Fortunately, you have your support network to spend time with this coming Thursday.
Whenever a holiday comes around, you can rest assured that a member of your support group (homegroup) will be hosting a get-together. If you have not heard anything yet, ask your sponsor or share at your next meeting that you are wondering how others are planning for Thanksgiving. Your support network will be able to guide you on safe and sober ways to occupy your time.
On Thursday, please resist the temptation to isolate and ensure that you make it to at least one meeting. It never hurts to go to multiple meetings during a holiday, either. Do your best to start your day how you would any other day of the year, i.e., prayer/meditation, exercise, a healthy breakfast, reading, or step work. Know what meetings you plan to attend ahead of time!
Protect Your Sobriety
While it’s best to spend your holidays in sobriety with other sober people, you may feel obligated to make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner. People who plan to attend an event that involves alcohol should see if that can bring a friend for support, preferably someone else in the program. If that is not possible, and you still plan to attend, then keep your phone charged so that you can always reach out for help.
It’s a helpful practice to show up a little late and leave early from holiday gatherings. Doing so can spare you from being cornered into answering unwanted questions and prevent you from being around drunk people.
You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you are leaving early. It also helps if you can be responsible for your transportation. Those who do not drive can benefit from making preparations to be dropped off and picked up by a friend in the program; this practice is an extra level of accountability.
Once you leave a holiday event, get yourself to meeting to decompress. There may be things that you saw, heard, or felt that need to be processed. At the very least, make plans with friends from your support network to close out the day.
A Safe and Sober Thanksgiving
The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Thanksgiving. Never hesitate to reach out for support; always call before your fall. If you experience challenges, such a relapse, get to a meeting ASAP to recommit yourself to the program.
We invite men to contact PACE to discuss your options if you may feel like you need more significant assistance. We are available at any time to answer your questions and help you get back on the road to lasting recovery.