As Thanksgiving approaches, anxiety can build, especially if you’re new to recovery. The holidays can be stressful. They tend to involve both lots of booze and old—sometimes triggering—relationships.
In my experience at over six years sober, the best you can do is prepare. Reach out to your support system beforehand and let them know you might be calling. If you’re in a 12-step program and will be out of town, find one near where you’ll be. It even helps to make sure you have plenty of your favorite non-alcoholic drink; knowing you won’t be the only without a drink in their hand can make you feel more ready to tackle any event sober.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at a Thanksgiving celebration, remember that it’s okay to step away for a bit. You can walk outside to get fresh air, go into another room to make a phone call, or even head home if you’re really worried about staying sober. Your recovery is your first priority—but even a quick step away can often help to reset. You can also focus on or count your breaths, or find a quiet space (if there is one) to meditate.
If you’re not hosting the event, helping the person who is can give you something to focus on that isn’t using substances. A bonus to this is that in the past, you might have been too intoxicated to help. Now you can give back while protecting your sobriety!
The celebratory atmosphere of these types of holidays might make you nostalgic for drinking or using. If you’re having thoughts about it, it’s important to remind yourself of the reasons you got sober. It may seem fun at first, but in active addiction, there are always negative consequences. If you’re wanting to drink or use because of holiday stress, this also applies. Going back to substances will only increase your stress.
This Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for your recovery. It’s a gift, and a really good opportunity to change your life for the better.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you find healthy ways to cope with stress, so that you can stay sober through whatever life brings. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.