Close this search box.

How to Do Thanksgiving Sober and Survive the Family Drama

Most Americans look forward to Thanksgiving as a time to celebrate with family and friends, but the holidays can be stressful for some, especially those struggling with substance abuse or who have recently completed rehab. For a person suffering from an addiction, the temptation to consume alcohol or drugs could amplify over the holidays when others are celebrating, and family members should be sensitive to the needs of their relatives who may have problems with addiction.

Addressing Substance Abuse In The Family Over Thanksgiving

Anyone who has struggled with addiction knows that certain environmental factors and stressors can cause intense cravings or lead to a relapse. Family should be supportive, but some family members may be destructive in their interactions with a loved one who has an addiction. Some may not realize the severity of a relative’s situation or may simply neglect to remove stressful or tempting elements from the area before a celebration.

Take Necessary Precautions

If you have a loved one visiting for Thanksgiving who has struggled with alcoholism, it may be a good idea for the family to forego alcoholic beverages during their holiday celebration. Even a seemingly innocent suggestion like “just have one – it’s a special occasion” can be very harmful.

If there is any reason to believe that a loved one or guest with a substance abuse disorder will visit for Thanksgiving, it is best to simply remove alcohol from the premises so there is no physical temptation.

It’s also important to prepare for difficult conversations and stressful interactions with family members.

Some family members may even antagonize or ridicule a relative with a substance abuse problem. It doesn’t matter what the motivation may be behind destructive comments – these interactions can be devastating for a person trying to pick up the pieces

Be Diplomatic And Avoid Arguments

If substance abuse has affected a family, then there are likely specific past incidents or relatives in particular that could pose problems for a person struggling with sober living. If one relative has a bad habit of starting arguments with a loved one with a substance abuse problem or is overly critical of his or her condition, it is definitely worth taking the time to discuss these issues ahead of time and make it clear that the family won’t tolerate aggression or hostility during the holiday.

Some subjects may be difficult for a person with a substance abuse disorder to talk about or confront. Some family members or other guests may be big triggers for his or her substance abuse issues. While you never want to specifically exclude one guest for the sake of another, it’s important to identify potentially toxic influences that could hamper a loved one’s sober recovery after rehab.

Give Space When Necessary

If a loved one with a substance abuse issue is visiting for Thanksgiving, he or she may need space to process the stress of the holiday. It may be difficult for him or her to stay seated at a table where others are discussing uncomfortable topics or consuming alcoholic beverages. Make sure your guest in recovery has a safe place to which he or she can retreat such as a bedroom or guest room.

Organizing A Safe And Sober Thanksgiving

Taking precautions for the sake of a loved one with a substance abuse disorder is only one facet of having an enjoyable and constructive holiday celebration. You may need to adjust old traditions or make other small changes to create a supportive environment. If you are recovering from an addiction and are concerned about visiting a relative’s home for the holiday, don’t shy away from speaking up ahead of time and asking for advice. A supportive family won’t consider it rude if you ask to remove alcohol from the house or for a specific seat at the dinner table away from a problematic relative or guest.

Create A Healing And Supportive Environment

Adjusting your Thanksgiving celebration for the sake of a loved one may even open the door to new traditions. Instead of drinking games or other activities your guests may have enjoyed in previous years, find alternative ways to have fun. Try new dishes with healthy ingredients. Have your loved one in recovery participate in preparing the meal and setting the table so he or she feels included.

Thanksgiving can also be a great time for the family to show support to a loved one with an addiction. If one of your relatives is celebrating a recent sobriety milestone, offer congratulations and support without putting him or her on the spot. Ultimately, the best way to manage stress around Thanksgiving when it comes to being sensitive to a loved one’s substance abuse is to be as supportive as possible.

Find Help When You Need It

Bright Future Recovery - Central California Addiction Treatment RehabThanksgiving may also be a good time for friends and family to gather and encourage a loved one to enter rehab.

While an intervention is a complex process that requires preparation, the Thanksgiving holiday can be a great opportunity to offer an overwhelming show of support for a struggling loved one. Let him or her know the family is thankful, that they are willing to make a positive change and make this Thanksgiving a landmark celebration for the family.

California drug and alcohol detox services can be a great way for California families to learn new coping strategies and overcome the effects of substance abuse. Bright Future Recovery offers a full range of alcohol and drug detox services with medical assistance, residential rehab treatment, and ongoing support for life after rehab.

Making a change is difficult when it comes to substance abuse, and the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year for a person struggling with addiction. 

This Thanksgiving, commit to having a sober and constructive celebration if you are still overcoming substance abuse. If you host a guest with an addiction, take steps to make sure he or she can enjoy the holiday to the fullest.

Related Reading:

Skip to content