Tomorrow millions of Americans will gather with family and loved ones for another Thanksgiving holiday. For most, it will be an opportunity to reconnect with distant family, eat delicious and homecooked food, watch the football game and take stock of everything for which they’re thankful in their lives. For many in recovery, however, it represents another challenge to maintain their sobriety and balanced mental health. The holiday season has always represented a stressful time in the lives of recovering addicts for a variety of reasons and it’s important that those who are particularly vulnerable to slips have the support they need during this time of year.
One of the primary triggers of relapse during the holidays is family-related stress; this is especially true for those who are new to recovery. Many of us may be seeing our extended families for the first time since we got treatment, and it can be like we’re reliving the days of our active substance abuse all over again. The presence of alcohol can also be especially problematic for those who are new to the process. While we’re bound to come in contact with alcohol at some point during our recovery, exposure should be minimized during the first few months or even year of the process.
If you or a loved one are feeling particularly vulnerable to relapse during the Thanksgiving holiday, start by having a frank and honest discussion about your limitations. If you think getting together with family, or whatever your existing Thanksgiving plans may be, will inhibit your recovery, skip it. Nothing is more important than your recovery and those who truly love you will understand your reasoning. If you choose to try and face the holiday, head on, be sure you have your sponsor or support person or even your therapist on speed- dial in case of temptation. Long Island Addiction Resources wishes everyone a happy, safe and sober Thanksgiving.