How to Stay Sober for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is usually a difficult time for someone who has just completed rehabilitation for drug and/or alcohol addiction. For many families, holiday celebrations and festivities center around alcohol. For this reason, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts often face increased incidences of depression and stress between November and January. So how can you turn this time of year into a time of victory rather than one which tempts you to reach for your Drug of Choice (DOC)? We have a few ideas. 

Even in the midst of recovery, holidays such as Thanksgiving can be turned into fun occasions and cause for celebration. But the desire to stave off a relapse may require a change of plans and a hefty dose of willpower. We know you can do it, since both are possible with hard work and a little creativity – which you obviously have, since and you have already come so far!  


Fun, alternate ways to celebrate the season: ​

  1. Do something that doesn’t involve partying.Thanksgiving is a time of giving. So, if you struggle with family gatherings, consider volunteering to help make the day special for others. Doing so can offer a welcome distraction as well as feelings of contentment rather than dissatisfaction and frustration. A number of places require volunteer assistance during the holidays. Considering serving at a soup kitchen, local shelter or group home that cares for memory-impaired seniors or children. 

  2. Find New Activities to Replace the OldCreate new traditions to replace the old. This is a great idea not only because it helps create new patterns but because you may not even enjoy doing the things you did when you were high. See a movie. Take up a new hobby or athletic pursuit. Or spend time with a support group filled with like-minded people. You could organize a bowling party or a trip to the zoo…anything to help yourself and your new sober friends celebrate the season in fresh new ways.   

  3. Host a Sober FriendsgivingIf your family is unwilling to go dry for Turkey Day, consider hosting a sober Friendsgiving. An event like this takes a bit of planning and work, but it will keep you busy, which is always a plus on your journey to sobriety. Invite friends who agree to the rules of non-alcoholic beverages only such as “mocktails.”

  4. Be the DD
    If you feel strong enough to spend time with people who plan to drink, offer to be the Designated Driver. This may keep you accountable. But only do this when you feel strong in your journey, not when you first start on the road to recovery. You should be strong in your commitment to resist having a drink. Offering to drive people home after the party might help you stay focused. But, again, do this only if your sober friends and sponsor agree you are up to the challenge. 
  5. Stay Away from Known RisksIf you opt to attend parties where alcohol will be served, arrive armed with non-alcoholic beverages. And don’t ever be caught with an empty glass. Also, be prepared to leave if, at any time, the situation becomes uncomfortable or you feel the pull of the life you’ve left behind. 
​This is the time of year where many people feel pressure. The reasons for this range from financial strain to family tension or stress associated with holiday travel. When you’re early in your journey to sobriety, these pressures should be avoided at all costs. This could be a great time to share with people who care so they understand the depth of your struggle. The holidays should draw people together. So, don’t be afraid to share your journey in a safe place. You might be surprised at the support your loved ones may be willing to provide. 

About MFI

​Throughout 10 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we employ the Matrix Model, creating a personalized treatment program for each client. Various modalities can include behavior modification, 12-Step program introduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family systems techniques, including the family in group therapy. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient detox, medication management (if appropriate), group therapy, individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and ongoing support after treatment. To find out more, call (866) 218-4697, or for non-admission related information (951) 683-6596.

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