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How to manage sobriety over Thanksgiving

Michael Leach

Special to the Village News

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. Unfortunately, this time of year is often linked to increased alcohol use. This can pose a challenge for someone trying to stay sober. The holidays are usually packed with gatherings from now until New Year’s.

Thanksgiving Eve is often the biggest drinking holiday of the year, yet celebration and indulgence lead to alcohol-related consequences. Fortunately, there are practical ways to avoid this and valuable tips for families to help a loved one who is struggling.

In California, alcohol is the most commonly used substance among 18 to 25-year-olds, and 11% of the treatment admissions in the state were for alcohol use.

Thanksgiving does not have to be an alcohol or drug-induced blur, and family and friends can be a point of stability and help for someone struggling.

The best approach involves coming up with a plan to stay sober. Most temptation to drink or use drugs arises because of anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed during the holidays. Chaos and unpredictability create triggers.

Come up with a plan before the weekend arrives. What are you going to do? Where will you go? Who will you spend it with? A little planning goes a long way.

Consider hosting your own Thanksgiving gatherings with friends or family or tell people that you are not drinking. Being in the driver's seat is okay, which can help reduce stress and possible triggers.

When attending family or friend gatherings, bring your own beverages or invite a friend to accompany you. Don’t forget your coping skills and plan your exit before you arrive if things begin to go sideways. It’s a good idea to have some support in place.

In contrast, suppose you notice someone struggling with their sobriety; do not brush it aside as just the stress of the holidays. Offer a helping hand, be supportive, and avoid casting judgment. There is so much stigma associated with addiction and sobriety, and this prevents people from asking for help. Help remove this stigma by showing compassion and understanding.

Celebrate Thanksgiving to the fullest, enjoy the time with loved ones, and look out for one another; create the memories you want to remember.

Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a healthcare professional specializing in Substance Use Disorder and addiction recovery. He is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant and contributor to the healthcare website Recovery Begins.


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