For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.
No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.
Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.
But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.
This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.
Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.
And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.
If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.
Decide how to talk about it
Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.
When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.
Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.
Include your support system
Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.
Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.
Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit
One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.
If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.
Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.
The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.
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Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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For many years Professional skateboarder Neen Williams lived a life of sleepless nights partying while creating a name for himself in the skater world. Born in Chicago, Illinois and currently shredding street tricks in his hometown of Los Angeles, California Williams has managed to attract sponsorship from several brands including:
- Circa Footwear
- Thunder Trucks
He also has a line of board designs that are all pretty slick. Neen Williams says he’s been skateboarding since he was about 13 years old, and with the territory he found himself smoking and drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Now, at age 31 he has turned his passion into his point of reference for a more sober approach to life.
Sobriety and Skating
Williams admits that he used to have a very different perspective of the life of a skateboarder himself. In a recent video with VICE he states,
“Skateboarding forever was like ‘drink boozes, smoke, we don’t stretch we don’t work out,’ and later in the interview he explains, “Back in the day I used to wake up late, eat like a burrito and slam a beer; go out and skate, manage to get a trick, and it would just be party time again.”
“It would never stop. It was just like a vicious cycle. There were a couple nights I would wake up at 6 or 7 (PM) and it would be dark outside.”
In that vicious cycle, Williams talks about needing days at a time to recover from drinking and partying, and on the last day when he finally felt good enough to get back to skating he would immediately go back to the partying as well.
He goes on to say that he wishes he had known all of this when he was a teenager, but even at 31 years old he is still learning so much. During part of the video interview Neen Williams says that he knows if you take care of yourself, you can skate forever. That, he says, is why he now makes the effort to eat so well and train his body,
“This is why I do all this healthy stuff for myself… because that is what I want, is to skate forever.”
That seems like a really legit reason to take care of yourself; to do what you love forever!
Originally Williams said he decided not to drink for the 6 to 8 month healing period he was told he would need for a torn ACL. Since then, it appears his lifestyle has changed dramatically to make his dream work.
Health Food and Fitness
Even though some may not immediately associate a balanced and healthy diet, along with regular exercise, it appears to have become a crucial element to Williams’ evolution as a skater.
On VICE Williams prepares a breakfast of acai bowls that honestly look stacked with natural goodness. Williams tops off one of the meals he makes- serious serving of what looks like well-blended fruits and vegetables- with diced pineapples and what I would guess to be barriers, almond butter, and granola, it looks like heaven.
You also get to see Williams break out a yoga mat and start stretching himself out. From there he said since Saturday isn’t a week day, he warms up with a quick 200 in to start the day.
When talking about his workout, he compares it to any other athlete. He says football players train to do what they do and they are covered in pads and protective gear. While he admits football players have 300lbs of muscle falling on them, he says the pro skater is usually out in the bare minimum, if anything, fighting sometimes face-first with concrete.
The Deathwish Team Manager, Jay Thorpe, makes a cameo during a street-side video shoot and says it is “really rad to see” when talking about Williams cleaning up his act and committing to the thing he wants to do for the rest of his life.
Williams says that while he doesn’t judge anyone, and doesn’t regret his party days, he has seen a lot of people fall because of it and he likes what he’s doing now. Probably a big inspiring part of Williams’ story is that he says he is glad he went through it and worked his way out of it to be the person he wants to be.
Athletes are put under a lot of pressure to succeed, even professional skateboarders and other extreme sports athletes. Sometimes the lifestyle of pro-sports stars can influence issues with substance use or addiction. Too many talented individuals are held back by these obstacles, but it never too late to get a fresh start toward a better, healthier expression of yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Are you ready for the burn on the playa?
By ‘the burn’ of course we mean the annual weeklong art festival Burning Man that takes place in the Nevada desert! If you have ever seen a video or a reference to Burning Man in the media or in a movie than you probably have a pretty specific picture of what Burning Man is in your mind. People typically envision it as a hedonistic freaky-frenzy of a party with nothing but bizarre art, ravers, hippies, drugs and alcohol. But for most people that attend Burning Man, it isn’t just a massive non-stop party. Burning Man is actually a place to relax, attend a number of events and work-shops, while seeing world-class and uniquely inspired art.
Every year the temporary metropolis of Black Rock City, which is the home of Burning Man, and its community grows. At the same time, so does the clean and sober community within it. Burning Man for many who are clean and sober is often not seen as a fight with temptation, but rather an opportunity to grow.
While there are a few people who may feel this is too risky, and we support and understand your choice, there is also plenty of reason to be confident in going to Burning Man and staying sober. There may be those in your own support system you want to consult with, like a sponsor.
Here is another 8 ways to stay sober at Burning Man.
Be honest and careful
This is about being honest with yourself, as well as with others. First, before going to burning man you should be honest with how you feel about the adventure you’re about to go on and your ability to do what you have to in order to remain mindful, happy and sober.
Then be honest with others. For one, the idea that everyone is handing out drugs like candy is probably not always the case. However, for your own safety and peace of mind always ask if anything you may ingest contains drugs or alcohol. Burning Man’s economy is based on gifts, and some may have the best intentions. Let people know you are clean and sober to avoid confusion.
Always consider the source, and use your judgment. Even though most people probably won’t try to slip you anything you don’t want, every year medical tents still report people being dosed without knowing.
Go with sober friends
This is always a good idea when going to any shows or music festivals. Having people who are familiar with your own behaviors and your own story can make it a lot easier to lean on them if you start to feel like something is bothering you. If you have sober friends it can be even more effective because they can relate to the things that may bother you. Sober friends can understand and provide a unique kind of peer support, while also keeping you accountable.
Enjoy the art and music
Burning Man isn’t just about the huge, all night concerts. There are artists who show up every year who have spent the entire year designing and building unique and awe-inspiring installations of art.
Taking some time to wander around and enjoy some beautiful and exclusive art, which is sometimes even interactive, gives you an opportunity to enjoy stunning visuals without needing drugs or alcohol.
According to one investigation, there are various clean and sober theme camps at Burning Man you can seek out:
- Anonymous Camp
- Run Free Camp
- Camp Stella
- The Hokey Pokey Destiny
You can typically research sober camps ahead of time to find out when and where they will be at Burning Man. You can reach out to the groups to try and plan your own camp site ahead of time, and possibly arrange to meet up with them.
Yoga and Meditation
For a lot of people yoga and meditation become a pretty consistent part of their recovery program. It is a relaxing practice that helps with mindfulness and self-awareness. So of course if you are interested in yoga you will be thrilled to know there is frequently a lot of opportunities to take yoga classes during a week at Burning Man.
Vinyasa yoga and kundalini yoga are a few styles that some Burning Man veterans have reported to experiencing during their time in the desert. Some have also spoken of chances to take meditation and breath-work classes and workshops. Stay sober at Burning Man may simply mean staying focused and grounded, and meditation and yoga can do just the trick.
Just because people come to Burning Man to experience something new and exciting while they escape from the world doesn’t mean they suddenly stop all their good habits. Some people actually enjoy exercising at Burning Man, doing things like riding bikes or organizing group work outs.
According to one young woman’s story, when she went there was even an ultramarathon. Yes… ULTRA-marathon! Burning Man attendees actually got up and ran 50k (31 miles) around the desert.
Many people find that volunteering in some way is a huge part of their recovery. Doing service work is one way we can take the focus off of ourselves, build connections with others and do something productive. If you find yourself struggling, you can always find some way to help someone else.
Burning Man can also present a lot of opportunities to do some service and volunteer your time to others. You can offer to help welcome people into the camp grounds and get set up. You can help by cooking meals and finding other ways to give back to those at Burning Man who might need a little help settling in themselves.
12 Step Meetings
Believe it or not, there are actually 12 Step meetings every day at Burning Man. While not all people who are clean and sober will be involved in 12 Step groups, the meetings will provide a space to get some support in case you are in need. You can also meet with other sober individuals and get connected with the clean community of Burning Man.
These meetings include Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon and Narcotics Anonymous. Some of them will alternate between the larger Sober Camps that you can find, but there may also be smaller groups that form more organically.
What you might find surprising, and what several accounts from attendees have found, is that the toughest part about burning man has nothing to do with what some people expect. The true challenge of burning man apparently doesn’t come with avoiding drugs or drinking, but actually from the elements.
Between the desert sun and the dusty climate, staying hydrated and accepting the exhaustion that comes with being amerced in 24 hour music and festivities, some people find that fighting the urge to use is usually the least of their worries. The hard part is keeping the dust off (pretty much impossible) while trying to rest between all the dancing, music, art, and exercise, hanging out and volunteering! There is so much to do at Burning Man that drugs and alcohol might just get in the way. But the truth is, once you build sobriety and recovery on a solid foundation, you have the potential to find true freedom and happiness without needing substances to make it happen.
Building that foundation starts with making a decision to get better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398