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Sobriety Tips for This Thanksgiving Holiday

Sobriety Tips for This Thanksgiving Holiday - Paradigm Malibu

Are you in need of sobriety tips this holiday season? Paradigm Malibu has you covered.

Getting sober is a difficult thing, but sometimes staying sober is even harder. That’s especially true during occasions when you know the people around you probably won’t be staying sober. A holiday gathering can be a perfect storm of factors tempting you to drink or use.

Take Thanksgiving: you may be dealing with travel complications, you may have a packed schedule with more than one dinner to attend, and you may be dealing with holiday financial stress.

You’ll probably be tired. You may be surrounded by people you don’t see often – and maybe you don’t see them often for a reason. Emotions can become frayed and conversations can be tense.

And to top it all off, the nature of the holiday is one where you’re more or less expected to overindulge – mostly in unhealthy food, but alcohol and perhaps other substances may be flowing freely as well. And when you’re already tired, cranky, uncomfortable, tense, and full of stuffing and pumpkin pie, it can be easy to just give in one more temptation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You’ve worked hard for your sobriety, and you don’t have to let anything take that away from you. You really can get through Thanksgiving without alcohol or other substances.

Take a look at sobriety tips that can help you maintain your healthy practices this Thanksgiving.

 

Have a Plan

When you’re anticipating a difficult Thanksgiving event, you don’t want to wing it. You can’t leave your sobriety up to chance.

Maybe things will go smoothly and you won’t even be tempted to take a drink, but when you know there’s a chance that things won’t go smoothly and you will be tempted, you need to have a plan in place to deal with that eventuality.

Think about what you can do to ensure that you make it through the event without jeopardizing your sobriety, even if everything goes wrong:

  • Bring a sponsor or sober friend with you for support?
  • Find a support group meeting to attend before or after the event?
  • Bookend your Thanksgiving dinner with calls to your sponsor both before and after?

Your plan should also include setting boundaries for yourself and enforcing them.

Is spending the night at your parents’ home going to be too much for you? Then don’t do it.

Make it a day trip only, or if you’re traveling too far for that, get a hotel room or make arrangements to stay with a friend nearby.

Will the office holiday party be too much about drinking and partying by the time its in full swing? Plan to stop in just long enough to make a polite appearance and be seen – even if that’s only half an hour – and then go do something healthier and more fun, like watching a movie with a friend.

Once you have a plan, the most important thing you can do is stick to it.

You made your plan when you were calm and in charge, so the best thing you can do at the moment, when you may be feeling frazzled and tempted, is stick to the plan you made when you were in a better state of mind.

 

Don’t Feel Obligated to Explain

You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why you’re staying sober.

Do you feel obligated to explain why you always pass on the green bean casserole? Probably not. “I don’t want it,” is a good enough reason not to eat something, and it’s also a good enough reason not to drink or use substances.

Keeping a (nonalcoholic) drink in your hand at all times is a helpful sobriety tip that can help keep people from offering to get you an alcoholic drink or asking you why you’re not drinking, and if you don’t feel like hearing questions about your beverage choices at all, this may work for you.

But in the event that you are still getting bombarded with questions about your choice to stay sober, it’s also fine to just smile and say that you just don’t want a drink, and that’s all you have to say on the subject.

 

Find a Way to Be Helpful

One of the quickest and most effective ways to get your mind off of your own problems is to do something for somebody else.

So, if you think you’ll find yourself dwelling on the liquor cabinet or looking for an excuse to use, a great way to get your mind onto a different track is to find a way to be of service to somebody else.

There’s usually something to do at a Thanksgiving gathering. If you’re there early enough to help prepare the food, you can get to work peeling potatoes or chopping vegetables – these are things you can do even if you’re not much of a cook yourself.

If you’re not there early enough to prepare, you can be sure that there’s plenty of cleanup to do. Or you could volunteer yourself to serve meals at a homeless shelter, deliver Thanksgiving dinners to shut-ins, or visit with someone in a nursing home who has no family to visit them.

These options not only give you the opportunity to do something for somebody, but they also give you an excuse to get out of your own event early if you need it.

 

Don’t Push Yourself

Paying attention to your own needs and taking care of yourself is one of the most important sobriety tips of them all.

It’s vital to check in with yourself and determine whether participating in this holiday is something that you can do while maintaining your health and sobriety, especially if you’re newly sober.

You may have never thought about it before, but the truth is that you don’t have to do Thanksgiving with your family. You could spend it with friends, you could find a community event, or you could even skip it altogether.

You don’t have to do what you’ve always done just for the sake of tradition or family obligation, especially if it threatens your sobriety.

So, if you’re not up to Thanksgiving this year – or any year – just don’t do it.

Staying healthy during the holidays and following these sobriety tips is more important than any single dinner or party, so don’t hesitate to do what’s best for you.

Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Founder and Executive Director of Paradigm Treatment Centers, who has been a respected leader in the field of adolescent mental health for more than 20 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, his Doctoral degree from Pacific University’s APA approved Clinical Psychology program, and completed his training at the University of California, San Diego’s APA approved psychology internship program.

Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.

Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.

In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.

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