Staying sober long-term is certainly not easy. In fact, identifying and working through relapse triggers every time they arise is a learned skill that takes ample time and patience to master. Once you get a hang of working through stressful situations without picking up a drink or turning to drug use, you will be able to make it through anything you are faced with, and staying sober will become second nature. Of course, every once in a while you will still experience something that really throws you for a loop. Say you were in a long-term relationship, and you walk in on your significant other in the throes of passion with someone who is not you. Say you believe you’ll be receiving a promotion at your place of employment, only to get fired brutally and unexpectedly. Say you have to attend Thanksgiving at your parent’s house with your entire extended family. Depending on who you are and where you come from, any one of these situations could easily send you into a spiral of self-pity and high stress levels. The key is being able to work through ANY situation, no matter how unexpected and devastating.
One of the most tricky situations to navigate is spending time with the family during Thanksgiving – even if your family is “functional” by standard definition, it can be hard to be surrounded by loved ones during such a high-stress time of year. Chapel Hill Detox has compiled 10 tips for staying sober this Thanksgiving. If you need additional support or if you have not yet allowed yourself the opportunity to experience how truly incredible and rewarding addiction recovery can be, reach out to us today. Our medical detox program was specially designed by a team of medical professionals and addiction specialists to lay a solid and lasting foundation for long-term sobriety.
10 Tips for Staying Sober this Thanksgiving
Inform your family members of your sobriety before you head into town (or get to wherever it is you are going). Of course, you are not obligated to detail your sobriety to anyone if you want to keep your recovery private. But letting your family members know that you do not drink is always beneficial if you will be spending ample time with them around the holidays. At the very least, prepare what you are going to say should anyone offer you a drink or ask you why you are not drinking.
Make sure you are paying attention to the old HALT rule. Hungry, angry, lonely and tired – these are four major relapse triggers. If you ever feel triggered or tempted to use, check in with yourself. Have you had enough to eat? Is something directly upsetting you? If so, can you identify what is upsetting you and work through it? Are you feeling alone and isolated (it is possible to feel this way even when surrounded by family). Have you been getting enough sleep? Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis. We are human, and we can easily get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays without taking great care of ourselves.
Line up some meetings throughout the day. Of course, meetings look a little bit different in this day and age – but their transition to a virtual platform makes them that much more accessible! Even if you travel out-of-state, you can attend the same meetings you are used to attending so long as you have a laptop handy.
Have some sober friends on speed dial. Make sure that your personal circle of sober support knows where you will be and knows to expect a phone call at any time of the day or night should you find yourself struggling. It is a good idea to check in with one or two people every day, even if you are feeling confident in your recovery.
Make a list of reasons why you got sober and why you are still sober, and bring this list with you to the festivities. Writing things down always seems to help. You can bring this list with you and continue adding to it while you are spending time with your extended family. “I’m staying sober so I don;t end up like great Aunt Dorris, old, drunk, angry and alone.” A little harsh, maybe, but sometimes observing your family members who never conquered their addictive disorders can motivate you to stay on the right path.
BYOB – bring your own (favorite) beverages. If you know the beer, wine and/or liquor will be flowing, it is a good idea to pack some non-alcoholic beverages that you enjoy, or pick some up at the store on the way. If you have some type of drink in your hand, there is a good chance that people won’t offer you an alcoholic beverage or ask you any questions.
Map out potential triggers and how you will react to them. Knowing your own Thanksgiving-specific relapse triggers will help you navigate the situation with ease. Does it really piss you off when your cousins get in heated political discussions? Do you get irritated and overwhelmed when your grandma corners you and asks you why you aren’t married yet? Figure out what rubs you the wrong way most years, and map out a plan for how you will react should the situation arise. Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself and take a long walk!
Bring someone with you. This could be a little trickier with COVID and all, but if you really feel that you would benefit from having a sober friend by your side, ask if you can bring one along. Offer to both get tested beforehand so that your family feels more at ease.
Make an excuse to get out of there early. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make up a bold-faced lie like, “I think I left the oven on,” or, “Oh, I forgot, I’m allergic to mashed potatoes… I need to drive myself to the ER right quick.” Make an actual plan that you can cancel easily if need be. Make plans to hit a meeting with a friend, for example, but be sure that friend knows that this plan is nothing more than an escape route. This way, if you are feeling triggered, you can easily get yourself out of the situation without hurting any feelings.
Just say “no.” If you really feel that attending a family Thanksgiving this year would compromise your recovery, just say “no.” Tell your family that you will make it this year, but that dealing with the stress of traveling might be a little too much. Remember that it is okay (and necessary) to consistently put your sobriety first.
Chapel Hill Detox – The First Step
Chapel Hill is Southern Florida’s premier medically monitored detox facility. We pride ourselves on offering a wide range of services and amenities that cannot be found in any state-run facility, and providing a truly unmatched quality of medical and clinical care. We believe that the highest level of medical care should be readily available to men and women who have been suffering at the hands of a substance abuse disorder of any type or severity. For this reason, we work closely with many major national and regional health insurance providers. If you are currently insured with a provider in Florida (or any major national provider), there is a very good chance that the comprehensive detox services we provide are covered in full. Chapel Hill Detox offers a 24-hour helpline that is completely anonymous and no obligation – give us a call at any time of the day or night and our treatment advisors will run a free insurance benefit check. If our services are covered partially or in full, we set to work developing stress-free intake plans. There is no reason for you to wait – there is no better time than right now to begin your own personal journey of addiction recovery. Simply give us a call and we will get you started on your own personal journey of healing as quickly as possible.