Alcohol Abuse Relapse: Getting Through Thanksgiving

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Recovery from alcohol abuse is an ongoing process, one that doesn’t take a break for the holiday season. Unfortunately, there is often an emphasis on alcohol during holiday events like Thanksgiving, which can make staying sober even more challenging. This is a challenge that you can accept, however, because sticking to your recovery goals is even more important – and still achievable – during the holidays. Preparation and relapse prevention strategies can help you get through Thanksgiving and come out stronger than ever.

Avoid an Alcohol Abuse Relapse During Thanksgiving

Continue your treatment plan

No matter what else is going on in your life, recovery should remain your #1 priority. Don’t skip out on meetings or counseling sessions to attend holiday gatherings. In fact, you may want to do just the opposite and bump up the number of meetings you attend. You could even find a meeting on Thanksgiving day. Talking with and hearing from others in your situation can support you through the day.

Create a game-day strategy

Go over what you plan to do on Thanksgiving. Will there be alcohol present? Is there a potential for confrontation due to difficult relationships from your alcohol abuse days? Work out how you will handle these situations. You can provide your own non-alcoholic beverage and make sure to have it in your hand at all times. Practice saying ‘no’ to the offer of alcohol. If you need to cut toxic people from your life, you should do so. Think of the supportive people who will be present, and ask them for help throughout the day. Remember that if things get too stressful, you can leave.

Be aware of HALT

Watch for the signs of HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Any of these physical emotions can lead to stress, which can trigger relapse. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and get enough sleep, particularly the night before Thanksgiving. If you feel lonely, have a list on hand of people you can call and get in touch with one of them. When anger strikes, take a time out and try to express your anger in a constructive way. Refer to what you’ve learned during alcohol abuse rehab and apply it.

Don’t spread yourself too thin

Saying yes to too many Thanksgiving events can lead to stress. There’s nothing wrong with turning down an invitation if you feel it’s not in your best interest. Explain to your loved ones that you love them, but you’ve got to focus on your recovery. Choose one or two events that are most important to you, like playing football with your nieces and nephews or attending an afternoon meal, and say no to others.

Focus on the positive aspects of Thanksgiving

Think of all the components of Thanksgiving that have nothing to do with the potential for alcohol abuse. There’s the Thanksgiving day parade, football games, spending time with friends and family, sharing a meal, and, most importantly, showing gratitude. Seize the opportunity to make this day about gratitude, and hold fast to what matters in your life. You’re in recovery, and that is truly something to be thankful for.