The holidays will always present several unique challenges for those navigating their recovery. Thanksgiving is no different. Navigating this holiday can be exceptionally difficult while balancing one’s sober needs and goals. However, there are always ways to keep Thanksgiving fun and sober, and no one has to choose between their ongoing sobriety and celebrating the holiday. Surrounding oneself with those who support their recovery during this holiday not only ensures that one is keeping their sober goals in mind but also helps an individual further distance themselves from previous lifestyles. 

The Risks of the Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving is a time for festive celebrations. However, for those in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol, it can also be incredibly complicated as one navigates past traditions and complex relationships with family and friends. Knowing the risks of the holiday can help each individual best prepare for the unique challenges it may present. 

Past traditions of drinking or drug use may still be prevalent in one’s mind, especially during the first Thanksgiving holiday one celebrates in sobriety. The particular traditions or time of year can be intimately tied to the use of these addictive substances, and it is common to feel the urge to engage in these traditions against one’s better judgment. Having plans to distract oneself from these urges or create new traditions is paramount. Planning an eventful evening of new traditions and experiences can be instrumental in navigating the holiday. 

Likewise, it is important to know who will be attending the festivities. Even family members may not fully understand the need or importance of one’s sobriety, and it is important to prepare for these things ahead of time. Lastly, the holiday may bring unforeseen stresses that can be difficult to predict. While unfortunate, the holidays often present challenges for those navigating their newfound sober lives. Expecting some degree of stress or anxiety is necessary to create an effective holiday plan. 

Creating Your Plan

Planning for the holidays can be stressful. However, balancing one’s enjoyment of the holidays with one’s sober goals and beliefs is also necessary. Effective plans for celebrating Thanksgiving require dedicated effort, but it is always possible to create a new way to celebrate the holiday. 

Focus on the Spirit of the Holiday

Each family will have its holiday traditions. For some, this can be gathering around a big feast, while others may make traditions of watching the Thanksgiving Day parade or football on television with the family. However, these traditions can also be tied to previous lifestyles, and creating new traditions may be necessary to mentally distance oneself from these practices and their connection to addictive substances. Refocusing on the spirit of the holiday can be a great way to give one’s holiday celebration direction while promoting new festivities.

Create New Traditions

New traditions in sobriety can be instrumental in mitigating unnecessary urges or cravings. Creating new practices, such as having a family movie night or playing games, can ensure that new traditions are developed with sobriety in mind and allow those in recovery to exercise their newfound sober identities and share in new experiences alongside their families. 

One can also embrace the opportunities of the holiday itself. Attending fall festivals, going pumpkin picking, enjoying hayrides, and more autumn-specific activities can make the holiday feel special without using drugs or alcohol. 

Host the Event Yourself

Going to another’s Thanksgiving celebrations can be risky. One may be unable to control the planned events, the guest list, or even if drugs or alcohol are present. Hosting a Thanksgiving event can be a great way to ensure that the holiday remains focused on sobriety and surrounded by supportive individuals.

Not only does this allow those in recovery to prepare new activities, but being able to curate the guest list oneself is a powerful exercise in agency. While it may be difficult to exclude members of one’s family if they are not supportive of one’s sobriety, hosting the event can ensure one is in control of the event. Individuals may choose to express the clear exclusion of addictive substances or not invite those who may be detrimental to their sober goals. 

Embrace Gratitude

Gratitude is a major focus of the Thanksgiving holiday, and focusing on this aspect can give the holiday a new feeling and culture in one’s sobriety. Family activities based on gratitude can all help champion this aspect of the holiday, especially in how it may be relative to one’s recovery journey and progress. Celebrating these aspects can make Thanksgiving a fun experience and a powerful time to deepen one’s relationships with those who have supported one through their recovery journey. 

Participate in Volunteer Opportunities

Thanksgiving also provides many opportunities to give back to one’s community. Volunteering at soup kitchens or helping with donation drives are all powerful ways to get involved with the spirit of Thanksgiving while ingratiating oneself within a caring community. This provides direction to the holidays and allows those in recovery to further focus on their developing sober identity. 

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of celebration, and we at Hawaii Island Recovery are dedicated to helping you make the most of the holidays while managing your continued sobriety. Our effective Hawaii substance abuse treatment centers help you address the effects of drugs and alcohol in your life and instill crucial skills for the future, helping you maintain the transformation made in treatment through daily life. From detox and residential treatment to ongoing outpatient support, we are prepared to help you make the most of the Thanksgiving holiday with personalized strategies and support. For more information on how we can help you, call and speak with a trained, caring staff member today at (866) 390-5070.