Celebrating Thanksgiving In Recovery

woman celebrating thanksgiving in recovery

Many people in recovery feel nervous when the holidays approach. This is especially true if they are estranged from their family or have triggers related to those in their life. Holidays are an emotional time for people from all walks of life! Whether you’re worried about family trauma or want to avoid triggers like your Uncle John passing the wine, your feelings are valid. Thanksgiving can be a tricky day for emotional health, so having a plan is important.

Celebrate Thanksgiving With Whoever You Choose

Celebrating Thanksgiving in recovery means whatever you want it to mean! If your family is estranged or substance users, you can begin building your “chosen family” now. Ask around to see if there is an open celebration among 12-step members. Often, there will be at least one person who has a gathering where everyone is welcome.

You may want to stop by your family gathering, then head over to a 12-step meeting. For some holidays, AA meetings and NA meetings host marathons that go for 24 hours – so you can stop by whenever you choose! Check your local meetings online to see what holiday events are listed.

Have An Exit Plan If You Celebrate With Family

Thanksgiving can be a trigger for many people. After all, we often think about the past (and get reminded of it) when we see relatives or celebrate with family. Sometimes these memories are raw and painful. As a result, you may feel unprepared to cope with your feelings.

If you plan on spending time with family, make sure you have an emergency exit plan! This can be texting your sponsor, calling your best sober friend, or letting people know you’ll be leaving to go to a meeting.

If you feel uncomfortable, acknowledge your feelings. Take some time to gather your thoughts if you feel triggered – you can always go to the restroom for some privacy. If you didn’t drive, make sure you have the Uber or Lyft app as well as the address to the closest 12-step meeting.

If you feel like using, please give yourself a minute at a time! Just stay sober until your ride comes. Then stay sober until you get to the 12-step meeting. Then stay inside with others in recovery until the feeling passes.

Consider Sober Living

If you’re looking for a supportive, safe environment to get back on your feet, sober living may be the right arrangement for you. We offer community, structure, and recovery in a fantastic location for making a new sober life! Give us a call to learn more about your options at 760-216-2077.

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season in America can bring out some of the best and worst emotions in everyone. Recovering people and their families are often a complicated dynamic. There are people in many families that are in recovery. Families can and DO recover. But this may not be the case in your situation. How you choose to spend your holiday season, and who you spend it with, is 100% your decision.

Holidays Are Hard for Addicted People (& Families)

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, love, and acceptance. That’s what the countless tv commercials and shows seem to advertise. But don’t be fooled or feel bad if your personal situation looks nothing like what you see portrayed in the media. There’s no perfect family out there, and many people have circumstances that make the holiday season difficult to experience or enjoy.

Family is “supposed” to look a certain way if you pay attention to marketing messages. Those messages are just meant to sell things and rarely even reflect what everyday people look like and live. Your family is never going to be perfect, and it’s your choice how you react to that or choose to conduct your relationships.

You don’t have to spend time with people who have caused (or WILL cause) pain. There may be family members uncomfortable with you, too, if there is baggage from your addiction. Accept where you are at and focus on what you CAN do to enjoy yourself this holiday without the use of alcohol or drugs.

Identifying Your Needs

If your situation this holiday season is less than ideal, you have the power to change the way you celebrate it. This may mean making changes in who and where you celebrate this season.

If you want to avoid a hard-drinking family, you can always plan to have a separate dinner that’s more intimate with your parents and others who understand your struggles. If your family itself is toxic, find out about 12-step meetings and other events where sober people are gathering.

If you choose to spend your time with your family but worry about triggers or stressors, ask your sponsor to help you create an “escape” plan. Make sure that part of this plan includes a ride home or to a meeting. Even better, make your escape plans ahead of time and commit to helping out at the 12-step meeting or event when you get there.

Be gentle with yourself if you experience triggers, anxiety, or depression when you’re celebrating. Please remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to other people in your network if you need help. Text people, go to meetings, and try to relax when you can.

Staying sober is the most important goal in recovery. People who stay sober do it a day at a time. That means just for today, no matter what, you're not picking up a drink or a drug.

Remember that getting drunk or high just causes you more problems and fixes nothing. Give yourself a chance and commit to stay sober no matter what this holiday season. Use the tools that have kept you sober, and reach out to others in recovery if you’re struggling.

Things to Do This Holiday Instead of Using Substances

  • Help in the kitchen. There is always something that needs to be done. Wash dishes, shape cookies, and avoid the outside crowd.
  • Set the table or vacuum when preparing for guests.
  • Offer to look things up on your cell phone or help an older relative fix their new cellphone.
  • Go outside and throw a football with somebody. Or, take a younger family member on a bike ride or to the beach.
  • Help with Christmas tree set-up and decorations.
  • Go to a movie with sober family or friends.
  • If you are religious, attend service with loved ones.
  • Go to a 12-step meeting or holiday event.
  • Help mix a pitcher of alcohol-free drinks.
  • Watch movies on Netflix or host a movie/tv show marathon.
  • Take a long bath or shower.
  • Meditate or take a short walk to gain mental clarity.
  • Call your sponsor for more ideas.

Try Sober Living San Diego

Sober housing is an excellent way for people new to sobriety to learn to live life on life’s terms. Learn more about your options available in the San Diego area. In sober housing, you will meet people who are sober, working their 12-step programs, and rebuilding their lives in recovery. To learn more about what our programs offer, call us at 760-216-2077.

For a myriad of reasons, the holidays can be a difficult time for people in recovery. Not only are there a lot of feelings that come up during this time of year, but there are also some temptations to cope with if you're invited to a get-together. Parties with alcohol or marijuana use are now common, and there may be some family relations left to repair. How is a sober person supposed to cope with all of the challenges?

Millions of people stay sober during the holidays. One of the best ways to cope with all of the drama, feelings, and stress is to have a plan. You should share it with others and write it down. Keep it with you on the most stressful days so you can refer back to it:

  • Don’t go to parties where drinking and drug use are rampant. Alcohol and drug use is a trigger that may seem hard to avoid, but it’s important. Don’t go to cocktail parties or answer invitations with references to marijuana in them (such as 420).
  • Pay attention to your triggers and acknowledge them. For example, have a plan for what you are going to do when you see somebody drinking or smoking. (Sit away from where drinks are served and avoid drug users.)
  • Bring a sober friend if you can. You can leave together if temptation is too high for you.
  • If you can’t bring a friend, do text message check-ins with a friend or your sponsor. Let them know if you’re struggling.
  • Go to a 12-step meeting before (and after, if you’re stressed). You’ll have people to talk to and get out of your head.
  • Practice explaining your sobriety to friends and family who aren’t aware of it. If you have family members who you want to share it with, it can be awkward at first, but it will probably come up.
  • Have a plan to say “no thanks” to any drink offers. You can explain your sobriety – or not. You’re allowed to choose who to share it with.
  • Try to have an attitude of gratitude. During the holidays, it can be difficult to center yourself in the here and now. Try keeping a gratitude list if you can.
  • Meditate, use mindfulness, or reach out to your higher power however you see fit. If you can’t find a private place, you can always take a moment away in a bathroom.

Staying clean and sober during the holidays can be stressful for the first few years, but remember that if you’re recently clean, you have choices now. Don’t be afraid to choose to leave situations that make you feel uncomfortable. You also have the choice to reach out to your support network.

Sober Living Can Help

One thing that helps people in recovery stay on track is living with others who support their recovery. Sometimes that means you're better off living in sober housing until life is more stable. Being in a community of people working on themselves can help inspire you and support you as you chart a new path. Want to learn more about your options? Call us at 760-216-2077.

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