Alcoholic's Guide to Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it means delicious, home-cooked food, family bonding and reuniting with friends. For recovering alcoholics, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year.

We all know the most common stressors: nosy family members, gossipy in-laws, trying to fit into your jeans while having your third helping of stuffing... Why was every holiday so much more fun when we were kids?!

Have no fear. Thanksgiving shouldn't be something you dread. Yes, there will be alcohol flowing, and yes, most people will be drinking and enjoying it. But that doesn't mean that you can't have fun without alcohol.

In fact, watching family members drink until they start telling off-color jokes and falling into the buffet can be one of the best ways to remember why you stopped drinking in the first place.

Tips to Avoid Relapse During Thanksgiving

  1. Plan ahead. Choose the social situation that you will be most comfortable in. Whether it's with your family, someone else's family, a group of friends or a soup kitchen, Thanksgiving should be a time to be thankful and happy, not to dread what your mother will find wrong with your mashed potatoes.
  2. Keep everyone informed. Don't go to dinner thinking that you'll be able to say no every time someone offers you a drink. This kind of temptation CAN and WILL lead to relapse. If you don't want to mention the whole "I'm an alcoholic" thing, come up with a different excuse for why you can't drink in advance. Here are some ideas: "I'm trying to lose weight," "I'm on antibiotics," "I have to go home and finish up some work after this," and the best one, "I'M PREGNANT!" – Just kidding. But really, the best excuse (besides pregnancy) is the truth because if people can see that you're working to achieve a goal and better yourself, they will most likely get behind that goal and support you completely.
  3. Bring your favorite non-alcoholic beverage to dinner. You can get excited to introduce everyone to "the best lemonade in the world," and most importantly, you'll be much less tempted to quench your thirst with an alcoholic beverage.
  4. Have a close friend check up on you. If you're not going to be at the same dinner as your closest friends, have one of them call you once or twice during the night just to make sure everything's running smoothly. Sometimes, venting to a friend for 10 minutes is all you need to get back to your zen self.
  5. Tell your host that you may have to leave early or come late. If you tell them that you might have to leave early, this gives you an easy out if the temptation and stress seem like too much to handle. Don't force yourself to stay in a place where you're miserable. Have a backup plan that you can go home to, like a Friends marathon and some rocky road ice cream, and be proud of yourself for making your recovery a priority.

    If you opt to tell your host that you might be late, you will most likely avoid the largest "drinking" portion of the night, and you'll still get to benefit from the delicious feast. Also, if anyone offers you a drink, you can politely deny by saying how much you're enjoying the food – complimenting the chef is always a popular move, and it will deter any further drink offers. When dinner is over, everyone will probably be so stuffed that drinking won't even be a physically possible option!

One Last Piece of Advice

Seeing all of your friends and family members enjoying a glass of wine may make you think twice about your alcoholism.

Maybe I don't have a disease – maybe I just overdid it for a little while...
I can have just one glass of wine. It'll make me more relaxed.

This is your alcoholism talking – your body is craving its drug. Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, don't let any alcohol touch your tongue. You are stronger than your addiction – this holiday is the time to show that strength!

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