Thanksgiving. National Day of Travel. Tasty foods, piled high and maybe some stress, too. And for those in recovery: welcome to the first leg of the Triple Crown. Whether this is your first sober Thanksgiving or 30th, this is a tricky time of year. Many people in recovery will tell you that the holidays can be a little lonely or bring back difficult memories. But they will also tell you that this is a time of year when they feel a lot of gratitude. Spending the holidays sober means making living amends by showing up, bringing good cheer and helping out as much as you can. This can also be a time to reconnect with friends and family and experience the joys of being present and accepting life on life’s terms.
That being said, life is still, well, life. And there may be some stress, maybe some drama or just a little indigestion from the turkey. Here are some of our favorite Sober Thanksgiving Survival tips and tricks.
- Be Helpful. Seriously. Ever hear the phrase “to get self esteem do estimable acts?” Pitching in on the cooking, clearing the table and washing dishes can go a long way towards soothing jittery nerves and lowering anxiety around being with friends and family.
- Traveling by air? God help you. Just kidding, it’ll be great. But in case you encounter any delays or snags, here are some travel best practices for ensuring smooth traveling.
- Driving? Experts say Wednesday is the busiest time to hit the road and if you’re driving ON Thanksgiving it’s best to hit the road before 10am. Prot Tip: Apps like Waze work wonders for avoiding traffic bottlenecks and seeking alternate routes if there is an accident.
- Turkey and Chill: Nothing like watching other people deal with the holidays to remind you to have a sense of humor about it all. Here is a great compilation of movies you can stream right to your handheld device.
- Have meetings will travel. If you’re going to be out of time hitting a meeting away from home can be both fun and a serious lifesaver. Nothing like checking in with a bunch of other sober people dealing with holidays and families to ground yourself in your sobriety. Wherever you are going the chances are good there is a meeting there. To find meetings google the town you’re going to + the word “intergroup.” If you’re not familiar with the areas call them up, tell them where you’ll be and ask for recommendations.
- Treat Yo’Self. Lavender, hot baths, chocolate and chamomile teas are all proven, natural stress relievers. A little tea with honey and milk, a hot bath and a little aromatherapy seriously work wonders whether it’s getting yourself into a state of zen before facing the holiday melee or taking the edge off after a long day of travel and social time.
Whatever you do: remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Call your sponsor, call a friend, go to a meeting or just ask the universe to help. Just do one thing at a time, accept life on life’s terms and be patient with yourself.
Being seated around the holiday table with family is an image that evokes many different associations. The mouth-watering smell of roasted turkey. The warm smile on faces as plates are passed and piled high with delicious foods. The full belly and happy heart of a meal shared with loved ones. However, time spent with family can also be stressful, even painful. For those early in their recovery there may be hurt feelings or bad memories from past holidays. Or you simply are not looking forward to being the odd one out when they’re passing out the eggnog. As a person in recovery you can’t turn to the glass of wine or cocktail to “mellow” you out. So what’s a sober person to do when the going gets tough? We’ll delve into all of this in more detail in the weeks ahead. But for now, here’re the definitive Big Five Basics of celebrating the holidays sober — while keeping your cool.
- Try the bookend technique
Simply put, this is when you do something before you head over to your holiday event and something directly after. Call your sponsor, call a friend, hit a meeting, do a gratitude list, have a coffee and pie “debrief with friends,” or go for a walk/run/trip to the gym. Exercise, meditation, yoga and going to a meeting are all great activities to get you in a good emotional and physical space to deal with stress and other emotions. Having something set before and after will help you to keep the event right sized and remain connected to your recovery throughout.
- Have an Out
When you are new in sobriety it is helpful to develop the practice of knowing your escape routes. So to speak. This imply means you know how to get out of a situation that is beginning to feel uncomfortable — or downright perilous to your sobriety. This can mean giving yourself permission to quietly grab your coat and keys and duck out with no explanation at all or simply having an imaginary appointment or event that you need to leave to take care of. The point is that you practice putting your sobriety and your emotional wellbeing first and know that tapping out and taking your leave is okay to do.
- Sweets and Warm Beverages
First off, please avoid going into these events with low blood sugar. You’ll overeat and you’re more likely to be grumpy. A little snack or hot tea with honey and lemon will go a long way towards cutting down stress and change your spirit animal from Grumpy Cat to this happy little guy. Also, here are some great recipes for non-alcoholic, tasty beverages:
- Mexican Hot Chocolate: Warm, soothing, sweet and perfect
- Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Milk: Calming, cool, superb, refreshing, mic drop.
- Soothing Ginger Tea: Anti-inflammatory, comforting, digestion-aiding miracle beverage.
- Super Spritzers: Add a little of pretty much anything to a half a glass of seltzer for a fizzy treat.
- Remember Your Sober Tools
People in recovery have tools. Meetings are tools. Sponsors and sober friends are tools. Service is a tool. Meditation and gratitude lists are tools. Prayer is a tool. At any given time these holidays, if you start to feel yourself going off the beam try using one of your tools. Examples:
- Be helpful: Volunteer at a soup kitchen or just help clear the dishes and then make sure you compliment everyone who cooked. It’s easy to be helpful and every little act of kindness pays dividends in happiness.
- Pray: Doesn’t matter if you have a strong spiritual practice. It’s not about knowing what you’re praying to or why. It’s the action–the power of ritual — kneeling, bowing your head, closing your eyes — asking for help or for strength or just turning over a person, place or thing you are having trouble accepting lightens your mental and emotional load.
- Make a gratitude list: Seriously. five things, write them down. Text them to a friend. Say them to yourself int he mirror in the bathroom. Gratitude thumps resentment, fear, anger and even sadness.
- Get to a meeting! Have a meeting guide? get one. Traveling somewhere and don’t know where the meetings are? Check the local inter-group. You can find this by googling the name of the place you are going and “AA meetings.” You would be amazed how much fun it can be to visit meetings when traveling and how big a relief it can be to sit in that chair in the midst of holiday stress.
- Don’t Drink
So simple right!? Except it’s not. Stay strong. Use your tools and do your best.
A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics noted:
Opioids are ubiquitous now. Enough opioids are prescribed every year to put a bottle of painkillers in every household. They’re everywhere…”
Serenity Lane has been treating opiate addiction and helping people manage chronic pain without prescription painkillers since 2006. In our second installment in the “Recovery is” video series, Rip Sawyer, director of Serenity Lane’s Addiction-Free, Chronic Pain Management program talks about the ways that people can become addicted to opioids (prescription painkillers) and how our program helps patients safely detox and develop long term sobriety and pain management practices that work.
Lots of thanks to the talented cooks, judges and eaters who made our annual Chili Cook Off a success!
More than 30 people came out to eat, fellowship and enjoy some experience, strength and hope from guest speaker Kara K.
The spread included five different types of chili to try, sides and sweets.
For more news about events at Serenity Lane’s Bend clinic, visit their page or send an email to email@example.com with the subject line: Alumni events in Bend. You can always follow our Facebook page to stay up to date also.
There’s no doubt that nicotine is a highly addictive drug. However, does smoking cigarettes increase the risk of addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs? This has long been a topic for debate, but years of research indicate a powerful link between smoking and other forms of addiction. This strong connection suggests that preventing smoking in the adolescent years may prevent subsequent addiction to hard drugs.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that more than 90 percent of cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 smoked cigarettes first. A study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) indicates that the path from tobacco to cocaine isn’t a straight line. Nearly all cocaine users began with tobacco, followed by alcohol and marijuana before eventually turning to harder drugs.
The statistics are especially frightening when it comes to adolescents. CASA notes that adolescents between age 12 and 17 who smoke are approximately 19 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who don’t smoke. Similarly, young people who are daily cigarette smokers are 13 times more likely to use heroin than those who smoke only occasionally.
Researchers who analyzed data from a mid-1990s National Household Survey on Drug Abuse considered the rate across all age groups. People who have ever smoked are seven times more likely to have tried cocaine, 14 times more likely to have used crack, and 16 times more likely to have used heroin. The numbers are much higher for people ages 12 and 15.
The reasons gateway drugs lead to harder drugs is complicated and largely rooted in changes in the molecular structure of the brain, particularly the part of the brain associated with rewards and pleasure. The American Cancer Society says that nicotine works like other drugs — it floods the brain’s reward center with dopamine, a neurotransmitter with a powerful connection to addiction.
Researchers are quick to admit that more research is required, including associations with developmental psychology, genetics and ethnic backgrounds.