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10 Tips on How to Survive Thanksgiving with Your Family

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 1:46PM | Published on Oct 15, 2019 | Drug Addiction


Alcohol recovery can be particularly challenging during family gatherings and holidays such as Thanksgiving. The added pressure of the holidays can take a toll on your mental health and substance abuse problems. When it’s time to pack the entire family around the table and saddle up for the biggest feast of the year, it is also time for those working through an alcohol treatment program to prepare for the challenges ahead. To enjoy a sober Thanksgiving, keep these tips in mind.

Person holding smartphone requesting an Uber taxi

1. Make Sure You Have a Medium of Transportation

Thanksgiving can be stressful. You’ve got family members sitting face to face for the first time in years. You have to be able to get out in a hurry, even if it’s just for five minutes. Make sure you have a way to get some air or get some alone time. So, remember that an Uber or Lyft driver is virtually minutes away from where you are.

2. Avoid “Serious” Conversations

Serious conversations can lead to stress: something a recovering alcoholic does not need more of, especially during the holidays. As a result, stay clear from discussions around politics, your recovery process, relationships, and other sensitive topics. Don’t feel intimidated or bullied into stressful situations. If you must, excuse yourself from the table and head outside or talk to someone else. 

Friends doing a pinky swear

3. Use The Buddy System

Having your friend around will deter the family from ultimately launching the family nukes across the table. The buddy system is also great for support. They can help you stay accountable for your sober promises and make sure you’re not letting any family drama get the best of you. 

4. Start New Traditions

No rule says you have to spend Thanksgiving with your family. Reach out to your other sober friends and see if any of them are in a similar situation. Consider going to a pumpkin patch or hosting your own sober Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Also, don’t even worry about making traditional foods if you don’t want to. Focus on enjoying each other’s company and giving thanks for your sobriety.

Attend AA Meetings

5. Go to an AA Meeting

You are far from alone when it comes to navigating Thanksgiving as a recovering alcoholic. Whether it is your first Thanksgiving after entering an alcohol treatment program, an anonymous alcoholics meeting can support making it through the day. Additionally, many recovery centers offer special sober Thanksgiving dinners.

If you are spending Thanksgiving out of town, locate a meeting near where you will be staying before the trip starts. Meetings give you something to look forward to and also an escape location if you need it.

6. Sit at The Kids Table

One sure way to avoid any alcoholic drinks for a least the meal portion of Thanksgiving is to sit at the kids’ table. The sweet innocence of children can be fun and entertaining in a simple way.

Thanksgiving Service

7. Be of Service

Your relatives will be running around doing a lot of different tasks to get the big meal ready. Step in and ask, how can you help. Offering assistance in the kitchen might positively surprise your family and could help rebuild some of the relationships and trust that drinking has damaged. Offering to chop the vegetables or clean up after the meal is also a great way to keep yourself busy and avoid stressful conversations.

8. Just listen

One by one, your relatives are going to be telling you stories. You don’t have to give advice or take sides. You just have to listen, be supportive, and also strive to be the person that your family came to spend time with. Many years from now, you may wish you had a little extra time with these people.

White and black grateful heart token

9. Have Gratitude for Your Sobriety

Generally, Thanksgiving is centered around giving thanks for the various things in your life. This time around, your alcohol recovery program has given you something incredible to be thankful for, sobriety. Whether your family goes around the table to announce what they are most grateful for or not, allow yourself a moment to be grateful for what you have achieved. This reminder keeps us humble and hopeful for the future.

10. Don’t Drink

It can be challenging to grab that alcoholic beverage, but avoid the craving. Remember the last tips for staying sober during the holiday season. You will get through this night and also through the rest of the season.

Sobriety is a chance to start over. This year, if you pass out, it will not be because you drank too much, but because you indulged in the delicious turkey. Take advantage of this opportunity to create new memories and traditions with your family and friends. 



Brittany is a Certified Addiction Professional and Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s CEO. underlying mental health struggles that lead people to fall for addiction in the first place. She believes in a unique approach to therapy blending compassion, motivation, and accountability. Her experience allows her to provide valuable insight into the underlying mental health struggles that lead people to fall for addiction in the first place.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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