If you have completed a treatment program and achieved sobriety, you have much to be proud of. Going through the detox and withdrawal process from drugs or alcohol is both mentally and physically exhausting and takes unbelievable strength. Despite this victory, it’s important to remember that the journey has just begun –and with the holidays coming you can expect to face certain temptations. It is not uncommon for alcohol and other substances to be used during the holidays by friends and family. Although you may be in recovery, other people in your life may not be battling addiction. While some people might abstain from drinking in order to support you, other people may not. The presence of alcohol during the holidays may be inevitable, but there are ways to help yourself fight the craving and avoid potential triggers.
Early sobriety can be difficult because people are still getting a handle on their triggers and adjusting to a sober life. Relapse is common among people battling addiction – with the National Institute on Drug Abuse reporting that between 40 and 60% of people relapse at some point during their recovery. Holiday stressors, including travel, fatigue, family issues and financial strain, can make this season a particularly difficulty time for people trying to focus on recovery and stay sober.
Here are a few tips to help you stay sober through the Thanksgiving holiday with family:
Work sobriety efforts into your schedule.
Putting a plan in place to protect your sobriety can increase your chances for success. Consider attending a twelve-step meeting or speaking with your sponsor or therapist beforehand, or you can simply plan to leave an event before heavy drinking could begin.
Keep a good attitude about the situation.
The holidays are not always about celebration for people. Depending on family circumstances, the season could be upsetting and lonely. Find someone who you trust that can support you during this time and keep in close contact with them to help keep your spirits up. If you do spend the holidays with family, lower your expectations about how they will behave in your presence.
Volunteer, if you can.
Thanksgiving is a great time to be of service to others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, offer extra friendliness and hospitality to a new person at meetings, or simply find ways to be a good neighbor. Helping others is good for the soul and can help motivate you to stay grateful and sober.
Be mindful of your drinking and thinking.
Not everyone may be aware of your circumstances, so it’s best to try and avoid situations that could be awkward and uncomfortable for you. Keep a beverage in your hand at all times to minimize the amount of times that someone may offer you a drink Additionally, make a conscious effort to not let tempting thoughts enter your mind. Do not try to rationalize a bit of drinking in social situations. Addiction is a disease and complete abstinence is the only way to stay safe and healthy.
Don’t put yourself in risky situations.
Thanksgiving in particular is a risky holiday for alcoholics. The night before Thanksgiving is traditionally a heavy drinking night, often in the context of a reunion. . Safeguarding your recovery must always be your top priority, even if it means you don’t hand out with certain groups of friends anymore. Steer clear of these situations and avoid people that you think might try to make you a drink or who will grill you too hard about your rehabilitation and treatment experiences.
Take care of your whole self.
Practicing self-care is always a healthy way of coping in recovery, but it is especially helpful during the holidays. Make sure you get enough sleep, proper amounts of exercise and eat a well-balanced diet. Taking care of your body will give you the strength you need to stave off temptations.
If you don’t think you’re going to make it, seek treatment.
If you are early in sobriety and have a history of relapse it may be best to seek additional treatment. Attending an intensive outpatient program, for example, can help keep you focused on your sobriety especially during the holidays. If you would like more information about staying sober for the holidays or about Guardian Recovery Network’s Outpatient programs call (877) 301-4673.