Everlast Recovery Centers

family get together during thanksgiving

Navigating Thanksgiving Dinner in Sobriety

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The holidays come with a plethora of new experiences as an individual graduates from a treatment program and begins to rebuild their lifestyle outside of the recovery sphere. While one can incorporate healthy daily routines and practices, getting together with the family can prove to be incredibly difficult. 

Whether through strained relationships or misconceptions about addiction, getting together in such an intimate setting as the Thanksgiving dinner table can create a number of new hurdles for those still beginning to navigate their sobriety. However, while the holidays can be stressful, they can also be an opportunity to practice one’s newfound sober and life skills, helping each individual take pride in their newfound sobriety. 

Set Expectations

Managing one’s expectations about the Thanksgiving celebration ahead can help one plan out how they may want to deal with stressful situations. While adopting a new, sober holiday dinner atmosphere in one’s new identity is incredibly empowering, it is essential to prepare for fielding difficult questions or refusing to talk about such subjects, depending on the individual. While unfortunate, one cannot force others to understand the blights of addiction and how it affects each individual, and there may be some tense or unsure air circulating about the dinner table. 

However, by setting forth concrete expectations for the holidays, one can set effective boundaries for their Thanksgiving plan. An individual may not be prepared to discuss all of the intricacies of their recovery journey, nor should one be expected to field such questions if one isn’t ready to confront such a sensitive topic in an open setting. 

Knowing one’s boundaries, making the boundaries clear to all in attendance, and establishing an escape plan in case the stresses of the gathering become difficult can all be necessary. Having support ready and willing to help an individual remove themselves from the situation or having an easy way to excuse oneself from the table can be incredibly powerful strategies if one’s boundaries become compromised. 

Creating a New Thanksgiving Role

While detaching oneself from previous Thanksgiving traditions can be difficult, it can also be a great way to further distance oneself from their past use of addictive substances and reinforce one’s new sober identity. Taking on an active role in the celebrations, such as being in control of specific festivities like games or organizing movies, or being actively involved in cooking and serving food, can help an individual recontextualize their perception of these holidays. 

With cooking being a major part of traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, having a hand in the creating of such a feast and providing such an essential act of service can not only provide an individual with direction and purpose during the holiday but also reinforces the accomplishments that come alongside the ability to serve and support others. 

This can further allow an individual to distance themselves from past routines. Where an individual may have used holidays as an excuse to drink or use drugs, taking on responsibilities can instead showcase one’s transformation and acquired life skills found in their sobriety. 

Hosting the Event

For those concerned about attending another’s Thanksgiving festivities, hosting one’s own Thanksgiving dinner or celebration can be a great alternative. Hosting Thanksgiving events in one’s own home can help one create the atmosphere they are looking for.

By hosting the event, an individual can also prepare themselves with coping strategies and escape plans that are easily and readily available in case their time with the family becomes overwhelming. Having access to one’s regular outlets can also help an individual plan ahead for activities to help one further distance themselves from previous ways of celebrating, especially if these previous methods would prove dangerous to one’s prolonged sobriety. 

However, this also allows an individual to curate a specific, supportive guest list, ensuring that those still navigating their recovery aren’t surrounded by family members who may be judgmental or confrontational about one’s past use. By surrounding oneself with proven and effective supports, an individual can explore the various ways they can celebrate the holidays without drugs or alcohol even being at the event at all, creating new traditions alongside understanding people.

Thanksgiving is a unique time of year for those still developing their sober strategies outside of the recovery sphere. Getting together with friends and family for the holidays can be either a source of support or unnecessary stress. Taking one’s holiday celebrations into one’s own hands can help each person navigate this time in a healthy manner, setting effective boundaries and reworking one’s holidays with new traditions and a new, sober atmosphere. 

Thanksgiving dinner can create a number of new stresses for those navigating their recovery outside of the treatment sphere. If you are concerned about your strategies for making it through the holiday season and want to continue building upon your sober coping strategies, we at Everlast Recovery Centers are prepared to help you. We offer an array of personalized therapeutic programs, all backed by proven therapeutic techniques. From art, music, writing, yoga, mindfulness, and much more, we are prepared to help you find your best way to relax in our homey atmosphere while continuing to build your sober toolkit. The holidays can present a number of new hurdles, and we are ready to help you tackle them while staying sober. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call Everlast Recovery Centers today at (866) 338-6925.

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