When you think of the holiday associated with the most alcohol consumed, you may think of Christmas, New Year’s, or St. Patrick’s Day. While all of these holidays lead to a sharp increase in alcohol consumption, Thanksgiving is actually one of the biggest drinking holidays. Well, Thanksgiving Eve, to be exact.

Being a time where everyone comes home to see friends and family, the day before Thanksgiving is often dedicated to drinking and reminiscing. This day has even been coined “Drinksgiving” because of the increase in bar patrons who come out to indulge in their drink of choice.

Does this sound all too familiar? Whether you used to hit the local pub with friends or stay home to get drunk with your family, deciding to discontinue this tradition is not an easy one — especially if it’s your first sober Thanksgiving.

How to Successfully Tackle Your First Sober Thanksgiving

Although Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year for many, it can be incredibly stressful for others. From overwhelming travel plans to strained family relations, alcohol can be a short-lived source of comfort for some, even if there are consequences of drinking too much.

Regardless of your situation, if your goal is to remain sober, you will need to approach Thanksgiving with a new mindset. And if you have been actively participating in a treatment program, you may also need a solid plan.

The following suggestions can help you celebrate Thanksgiving sober. It will be another stepping stone toward long-term sobriety as you build a healthier, happier future.

Related: 10 Tips for Staying Sober in 2021

Avoid Stress and Know Your Triggers

For many, the temptation and then need to drink are often triggered by external and internal factors. However, for some, triggers can be a certain place or even a certain person. This is something you need to consider when preparing to celebrate a sober Thanksgiving.

The best way to remain sober is to come up with a plan and stick to it. Before Thanksgiving, discuss your triggers in therapy so that you can create a plan before you arrive. What will you do on Thanksgiving, and with who? Where will you go? You must have a clear plan of action so that a potentially damaging series of events don’t take place. Going with the flow is not a good plan for this day.

You should also arrange your own transportation for the evening. That way, if you feel as though your triggers are too overwhelming, you’re not relying on someone else to bring you home.

Remember What You Learned in Treatment

Participating in an individualized, evidence-based treatment program will provide you with a better chance to succeed. For example, behavioral approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy can help modify your attitude and approach to alcoholism. As discussed, these therapies will also help you better handle stressful situations and environmental triggers.

Alcohol addiction treatment will also help you develop key life skills, the type of skills you can implement into your life outside of treatment. The development of coping skills is particularly important, as this will help enhance your level of self-control.

Help Around the House

Staying busy is a great way to keep your mind off drinking. Offer to lend a hand with dinner, the dishes, whatever it takes to keep you busy. This will also provide you with an opportunity to heal relationships that may have been damaged in the past because of your drinking.

Express Gratitude

There is no “black and white treatment plan” that works for everyone, which is why it’s important to take an individualized, holistic approach. The top treatment facilities typically offer a spectrum of treatment options, including traditional and experiential therapy options. For example, meditation can be incredibly helpful for some individuals in treatment — especially those learning to express gratitude.

Learning to focus on the positive aspects of your life can be incredibly powerful. A gratitude journal can help support your journey, allowing you to express your emotions and experiences. This Thanksgiving, think about two to three things you’re grateful for so far within your recovery journey. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is all about!

Host Your Own Gathering

You may already have many Thanksgiving traditions, but if those traditions could sabotage your sobriety, why not start new ones? Hosting your own sober Thanksgiving is a great way to keep the entire holiday alcohol-free, and those who support you will think it’s a great idea.

Invite those who have no problem remaining sober, such as a few close friends or family members. Depending on where you are in your recovery and the people you have met on your journey, you could even host a special Thanksgiving celebration for the friends you’ve made during your recovery process.

This helps you remain in control of Thanksgiving, limiting the stress that comes with the unexpected.

Give Others a Heads Up and Bring Your Own Beverages

If you’re attending someone else’s Thanksgiving gathering, make it clear ahead of time what your goals are so everyone knows you are not drinking — and that they shouldn’t ask. It’s important to set boundaries for yourself, as well as others. If you have been participating in family therapy, you may have already begun processing issues within family relationships.

Depending on the family dynamic, even if your host knows you’re staying sober, don’t automatically assume they will have non-alcoholic beverages you’ll enjoy. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with drinking water with your Thanksgiving dinner, but if you have a go-to non-alcoholic beverage, bring it along with you. Seltzer with a splash of cranberry or pineapple juice is delicious! If you have a drink in your hand, people will also be less likely to offer you a drink (if they didn’t get the “I’m sober” memo).

Check out these “35 drink recipes that DON’T need booze to taste great.”

Learn to Accept New Traditions

Things are different now, and that’s a good thing. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, the holidays may make you think of the good times when you were drinking with friends and family, blocking out the bad memories. As you continue your road to recovery, it’s important that you make peace with the fact that holidays will be a little different now that you’re not drinking.

New traditions could include:

  • Visiting a pumpkin patch (here are five great recipes that call for fresh pumpkin)
  • Going apple picking (once again, you might as well enjoy the fruits of your labor — here are 16 recipes to make after apple picking)
  • Going completely outside the box to make a fall-inspired taco bar
  • Host a sober “Friendsgiving”

If there are people in your life who don’t respect that, this is an indication of who may contribute to a potential relapse. Remember, your sobriety comes first. If that means distancing yourself from certain people, that’s what you need to do.

Practice Self-Care

Thanksgiving can be an exhausting and overwhelming time, even for those who aren’t battling addiction. Before you head to your family gathering or bake a dozen of your famous apple pieces, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Leading up to your sober Thanksgiving, prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise. The better you feel physically, the better you’ll feel emotionally. Create healthy habits and stick to them!

Mending Fences Is Here for You

Transformations Mending Fences is a nationally accredited and licensed residential mental health and substance abuse treatment center located on 400+ acres in northern Florida.

If you or your loved one need help, please contact us today!