Thanksgiving is a day we associate with being with family, eating delicious food, and being thankful. Rarely do we think of Thanksgiving as a time to help those in recovery avoid relapse. Your assistance to a loved one in recovery is an incredibly important part of their process in getting healthy. With just a simple few steps, you can make a critical difference in their lives by helping them get through this holiday sober, which can be harder than you may think.
Being this person’s safety net during Thanksgiving is an important piece in the puzzle to their sobriety. Them coming to you to celebrate turkey-day can be a way of them telling you that they trust in you to provide an environment in which they will feel safe as they navigate this portion of their life.
It is also important to remember that if a loved one who in recovery is coming to your house this Thanksgiving, that does not mean you have to completely alter how you approach the holiday. There is a misconception that if you are with someone who is on the path to sobriety that you have to live on edge, that you have to always wonder if they are okay and wonder what they are thinking or that you should cancel any party you may have planned. But in fact, it is just the opposite. By following these few steps, you can ensure your Thanksgiving will not only be magnificent, but also a place your family member or friend can come relax in and know they do not have to risk relapsing.
Plan Fun Activities
One of the best things you can do to ensure your friend or loved one is not tempted to relapse is to fill your Thanksgiving with fun activities. It does not need to be anything too wild, as it could simply be checking out a movie, going for a hike in the hills, having friends over for a night of board games, or getting a pick-up game of soccer going in your local park. Whatever it is that you find fun will be time worth spent. You will look back, grateful that you did these activities, as they build quality memories of your Thanksgiving.
Create a Stress-Free Environment
Often times what sends someone to drink or take a substance is stress. This is especially true during the holidays, when there is pressure and stress around seeing and spending time with family. So create an environment that is stress free. If someone is staying with you that is in recovery, give them a few hours to arrive and get settled in before bombarding them with guests. You may think seeing loved ones is exactly what they need, and you may be right, but do it slowly. It can be overwhelming to come into someone’s home and immediately feel the need to entertain.
Join Them For a Meeting
There may be a point during the holiday when your loved one has to attend a meeting. Ask if you can join them. Taking the initiative to show that you care enough about their sobriety to attend a meeting with them, will demonstrate that they can always trust you with their well-being. From that moment on, they will always know that if they need to talk to someone, they will have your ear. And on your end, you may be surprised what you learn by attending. Coming away from the meeting you may find yourself with a firmer grasp on the issue at hand, and an even deeper sense of empathy.
If You See Something, Say Something
If at any point during the holiday you do grow concerned, say something. Perhaps your loved one is going out alone for long periods, you have medication that has gone missing, they seem intoxicated, then say something. Do not be hostile, but in a calm manner, sit them down and express your concern. Silence in these situations can only lead to a longer recovery process. Being honest and speaking up is the only sure-fire way to get the ball moving in the direction of sobriety.
This Thanksgiving, be grateful for those around you and if you find yourself in the company of someone who is on the path to recovery, lend a helping hand. It is the most selfless thing you can do and they are sure to be thankful for it.