Thanksgiving is an enjoyable time for millions to reunite with family, and share a meal together around the table. In fact, AAA reports that nearly 51 million people will travel at least 50 miles this year to celebrate the holiday, the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005. But there will be an increase in something else this week, too: alcohol sales.
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The holiday season is notorious for booze-fueled get-togethers; a few years ago, Thanksgiving Eve was coined “Blackout Wednesday,” a notorious night for heavy drinking. Thirty-five percent of fatal traffic collisions on Thanksgiving involve a drunk driver, on average, compared to the 28 percent average year-round. The almost inevitable pairing of Thanksgiving and drinking causes the holiday to be especially challenging for those in recovery from a substance or alcohol use disorder. If this is your first Thanksgiving sober, one of the smartest things you can do is set up a sober action plan for the holiday before it arrives. When you head into the holidays prepared, you can increase the chances of maintaining your sobriety throughout the festivities.
Here are a few different ideas you can include in your sober action plan:
Develop an “Escape Plan” Beforehand
Developing an escape plan is the single most important thing you can add to your sober action plan for Thanksgiving. There are few more-stressful feelings than being trapped in a situation where you have no way out. If the drinking becomes too much to handle, you can get yourself out of the situation before posing a threat to your sobriety by having an escape plan that might involve:
-Driving yourself to the gathering so you can leave whenever you want
-Finding a friend who will be nearby and can pick you up at a moment’s notice
-Installing the Uber or Lyft app on your phone to hail a ride
Also make sure that your next destination is a safe place, whether it’s your home or sober living, a 12-step meeting, or another get-together where you know there will be another sober person. You don’t want to find yourself in the same situation you just left.
Bring a Sober Friend with You
It’s more difficult to stay sober when you’re the only one not drinking, especially for those who come from families of heavy drinkers. For these individuals, escaping alcohol can be nearly impossible. If you can, find a sober friend to bring with you to the function. The two of you can provide accountability and support for one another throughout the day.
Collect a List of Phone Numbers
Build a list of people who you know will answer the phone when you call. If you’re unable to leave the gathering, you can at least reach out to another person who understands where you’re coming from. The holidays are a challenging time for nearly everyone in sobriety, no matter how long they’ve been sober. Reaching out to another person in recovery and checking in can benefit both of you.
Find a 12-Step Meeting
Many Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) clubs nationwide hold special gatherings on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Many of these clubs host what are called “marathon meetings,” or a meeting every hour on the hour. This ensures that no matter what time you show up at the club, there will be a meeting happening shortly after your arrival.
Even if you don’t actively participate in 12-step recovery, this is a great addition to your sober action plan. Going to a place full of people who understand and share the same difficulties during the holidays can help you to not feel so alone.
Any Other Ideas for a Sober Action Plan?
Do you have any other practices you keep in your pocket to help keep you sober during Thanksgiving? Leave a comment with a suggestion that others in recovery can use to stay sober!