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This Thanksgiving Count the Hours You're Sober

Okay, if you're newly sober, then attending a Thanksgiving event might be challenging. There may be alcohol there, for one. And secondly, there may be relatives or acquaintances there that may get under your skin. Either way, you may feel the urge to drink or get high. If this year is going to look like an obstacle course, then count the hours you're sober and let sobriety be the focus of your time with family and friends.

Of course, you might love your relatives. However, if you know that you're at risk of relapsing, then begin your timer at the start of the Thanksgiving event and let it count your sobriety for you. As a member of the family you might have to make your appearance at a family gathering. You might have to show up and mingle with your relatives. But that doesn't need to get in the way of your sobriety. As you're chatting and conversing with everyone at dinner, use your watch or phone as a encouraging reminder that you're sober. Let the ticking time be a token of your new life change. You might even want it to be your little secret as you mingle.

However, your sobriety doesn't have to be a secret. In fact, it's a good idea to have at least one person who knows that you're sober and who can help you if you feel tempted. It's sort of like having a buddy. He or she can keep an eye on you at the Thanksgiving event. Also, you might be able to approach this person when you're feeling a moment of stress, anxiety, or craving. Having a buddy can help you if you need to slip away from the celebration early.

If you do need to leave early, know what you're going to say ahead of time. In other words, prepare what you're going to say before you even arrive. If you're starting to feel the temptation to drink and you want to leave early, having something already prepared to say will cause less concern among your family. Along these lines, have one or two lines prepared about why you're not drinking. If you're at a Thanksgiving celebration serving alcohol, there's a good chance that someone might want to get you a drink or encourage you to have a glass of wine or beer. Knowing how you're going to respond in those moments won't catch you off guard when it happens.

Lastly, another trick to protect yourself from the urging of others to drink is to have a drink already in your hand. As soon as you get to the celebration, get a non-alcoholic beverage and slowly sip on it throughout the night. If you have a drink in your hand, someone is less likely to encourage you to get one. Whether it's sparkling water or grape juice, use that drink to fend off the interrogation of others.

With all these little tricks, you're likely to stay sober this Thanksgiving even if there is drinking all around you. Iff it gets to be too much, you can always leave. Then, when you get back into your car to leave, you can look down at your watch and count the hours you worked to stay sober this Thanksgiving. 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.