How to Do Thanksgiving Break Sober
Thanksgiving has gained a reputation in the United States as the premier drinking holiday, especially for college students. To some, going home from school for the holidays and drinking with friends from high school is a rite of passage. The local bars become crowded with students sporting a mixture of their college’s gear and old sweatshirts from their respective high schools on Thanksgiving Eve. Many students wake up on Thanksgiving with a hangover.
Thanksgiving day offers its own sobriety challenges. Many families stock up on booze for the occasion. Almost everyone has a relative that encourages everyone else to drink, and passes out early. Many people in recovery have been guilty of this in the past.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be filled with alcohol. The nostalgia of seeing old friends from high school does not have to be fogged with alcohol. Here are ten tips to help you have a sober Thanksgiving Weekend.
1. Put your sobriety first when meeting with old friends.
Many students in recovery experience a feeling of guilt or FOMO when they don’t see all of their old friends. The notion that “anyone who likes to party wasn’t really their friend” is easily dismissed and nostalgia fueled plans are set up. Most people don’t end up relapsing when they visit a party with old friends in early or sustained recovery, but many end up in a bad head space and end up not having as much fun as they thought they would. It is okay to not see everyone.
2. Visit your local recovery clubhouse.
If you do not have a recovery support group in your hometown, it is best to start one immediately. Hit a meeting. Raise your hand and explain your situation. Find some people who can hold you accountable in town.
3. The Group Chat is Key
Get a group text going with your friends from school. Check in on each other. Let each other know if you are going to be in a tough situation. It is okay to say, “Hey Robbie I am going to be around a bunch of people drinking. I’m going to shoot you a text at 11 to let you know that I am okay and made it home.” That could be the difference between leaving somewhere at an appropriate time.
4. Check your local listings.
Football and parades are excellent alternatives to drinking. Find some recovery supportive friends to sit in front of the tube with, and spend the day drinking La Croix and relaxing in the recliner.
5. Shop It off
If you need to occupy your time, maybe black Friday shopping isn’t such a bad idea. Get your holiday gifts done early. Just don’t spend money that you don’t have!
6. Not all plans have to be at night
Put your sobriety first when making plans. It is best to make plans during the day. It is okay to ask your friends if they want to do something that doesn’t involve drinking. It is important to speak up and advocate for yourself. Assert that you would now feel comfortable around alcohol.
7. Spend time with family
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family. Use this opportunity to take your mother out on a date, play video games with your sibling, or visit your grandmother. Showing up for family is a wonderful gift of recovery. Also, remember that your family does not have to be blood related!
8. Enjoy the food
You don’t need to spend 8 pm on Thanksgiving night puking in your mother’s rubber tree plant. If you are sober, you will be able to enjoy the pie. Also, waking up first on Friday means first shot at leftovers!
9. Marathon Meetings
Many clubhouses offer recovery meetings like AA or NA all though the night on Thanksgiving. There may be options for a clubhouse or church Thanksgiving as well. If you need to get out of the house, places and events like this are a perfect safe house!
10. Be Thankful!
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you are grateful for. Spend some time thinking about the gifts that recovery has brought you. You have an opportunity to redefine what Thanksgiving means to you. Use it!