All posts by Wendell Montney

About Wendell Montney

Over 30 years career in the field of addictions. Author and Organizational Development Professional.


Danger: Thanksgiving Is Coming To An Addict Near You

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Turkey, Dressing, Family and all of those fond memories? Well, for many who struggle with sobriety Thanksgiving presents challenges to overcome. If you’re one of the family members around the table this year with an alcoholic or addict here are a few things you can consider:

Memories can hurt

When family and friends get together it’s only natural to go down memory lane. For those who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs that journey may be fraught with emotional pain.

There’s never a good reason for an addict to use but it doesn’t take a good reason, does it? At the risk of readers thinking the only choice is to walk on eggshells with your addict around, let me say when the past isn’t resolved and it’s a factor in using, Thanksgiving is a prime opportunity to fall off the wagon.

One of the reasons support groups are so helpful during the holidays is the availability of others who find holidays to be difficult as well. The opportunity to discuss the hurts and hangups that trigger you to use can make a difference.

Bottom line, it’s your choice to use or not. There’s plenty of hurtful memories enough to sustain a good high. On the other hand it’s YOUR recovery not the person who you share that memory with during the holidays. If you use, they win and the pain of that memory continues to exert a hold over you.

I know some hurts are so influential you may want to avoid certain gatherings because of the potential risk it holds. You need not feel guilty for taking care of your own sobriety. It is your responsibility and if you determine it’s too much risk and you are too vulnerable don’t go.

Alcohol is a temptation

Does your family gathering include alcohol? What a trigger. Even if your drug of choice isn’t alcohol it only sets you up to use your drug of choice.

Family members who don’t have issues with alcohol may think nothing of a few drinks to get in the holiday spirit. It’s much more than that for someone who’s on their path to recovery. You don’t need to be tempted to use during this critical time.

I’m not blaming family for their use of alcohol I’m suggesting the presence of alcohol creates a significant temptation. I know of family who would say something like “Awe, come on it’s Thanksgiving. Have just one”. There’s the dilemma, if an addict could just have one or two drinks there wouldn’t be a problem, but they can’t.

Expectations can be stressful

Thanksgiving is filled with not only memories but expectations. When family connects there may be competition between family members, unresolved conflict or other issues surrounding family relationships.

Each person brings into the holiday their own expectation. These may not be met and presents a potential trigger for an addict to use.

What can you do about it this Thanksgiving to limit your risks? Here a few suggestions:

  • Limit the amount of time you are in the situation
    Make sure you have a plan to take you out of the situation if you need to go.
  • Keep a NON-Alcoholic beverage with you at all times
    This allows you to have something to drink to avoid offers to use.
  • Connect with an accountability person
    Make sure they can be available for a phone call if needed.
  • Realize you are not responsible for others expectations
    You can only do something about YOUR expectations. Take people for who they are and not someone you want them to be.

Thanksgiving can be a very wonderful time of the year. Remove the danger from the event if your concerned about how the holiday will influence your recovery.

Written by Wendell Montney