Sober Thanksgiving

Sober Thanksgiving

As winter approaches, the holiday season is now full-swing. Unfortunately, holidays can be tough if you are struggling with a substance abuse problem or are in active recovery. Partying is also especially prevalent during the holidays, which many times can make it hard to celebrate a sober Thanksgiving or New Year’s. Although not all holidays are synonymous with alcohol, 11% of women and 15% of men binge drink on Thanksgiving.

A sober Thanksgiving can also be awkward if holidays are stressful or are filled with bad memories. Learning how to celebrate holidays while in recovery is an crucial way to strengthen your abstinence and sobriety.

Addiction, Alcoholism and Holidays 

Many holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, and New Year’s, are known for alcohol-fueled celebrations. This can make many holidays, including Thanksgiving, very hard to enjoy when you are in recovery. For those with unstable childhoods, holidays can cause bad memories to surface. Other times, holidays are very stressful, especially when you have to travel extensively to visit with friends and family members.

If holidays are a painful time of year, you can deal with depression and anxiety. These negative emotions often are powerful triggers during recovery. Even if you have achieved a sustained period of abstinence and sobriety, the holiday season can intensify cravings and put you at risk for relapsing. Some common holiday triggers are:

  • Financial problems or needing to spend money on gifts and travel
  • Returning home, which can be a place you used to use your substance of choice
  • Depression and loneliness
  • Seeing estranged family members or friends

Another reason holidays can increase cravings is because many holiday celebrations include alcohol.This can make it very hard to enjoy the holidays with friends and loved ones who drink.

How to Celebrate a Sober Thanksgiving

Recovery doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the holiday festivities. A sober Thanksgiving can be just as fun, especially if you make plans in advance. One of the best ways to enjoy a sober Thanksgiving is to spend time with other friends who are in recovery. If you are active in AA or NA, your group may host a sober Thanksgiving event. You can get help planning for a sober Thanksgiving from your sponsor or therapist.

If your family routinely provides alcohol at holiday events, you may want to ask if they are willing to have a family-wide sober Thanksgiving. You can also make plans to enjoy retail sales like Black Friday, which can be a fun way to enjoy a sober Thanksgiving.

Reaching Out for Help

The holiday season can sometimes be hard when you are in recovery. During addiction, it is common to use drugs and alcohol during the holidays, which can make it hard to plan a sober Thanksgiving. A sober Thanksgiving may also be hard if you don’t have friends or family members to celebrate with. Making plans before the holidays that don’t include exposure to drugs or alcohol is a great way to maintain your sobriety. We offer a variety of treatment programs, including:

If you are struggling with your sobriety or are ready to discuss your treatment options, contact us today.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.