Josh Chandler | November 16, 2021

Tips For Celebrating Thanksgiving With a Family Member in Recovery

Celebrating Thanksgiving With a Loved One in Recovery from Addiction

Any holiday imbued with tradition, from Christmas to birthdays to Thanksgiving, can be difficult for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Recovery can come with physical, personal, and financial struggles, along with the emotional and psychological drain that comes with making a challenging and often complex life change. Keep reading to see how celebrating Thanksgiving with a family member in recovery from substance abuse is possible.

Click here to call Muse Addiction Center today. Our staff is available 24/7 to provide answers and begin the admissions process. Call (800) 426-1818.

Even with visits to 12-step meetings or other support groups, your loved ones may still struggle with the pressure to socialize, celebrate, eat and drink with family and friends. Early recovery is usually when the person realizes the harm their addiction caused, not only to themselves but also to others. They are still learning to navigate life, social pressure, and feelings without the use of substances. Emotions are heightened around the holidays, including anger, resentment, and hurt, and if there are no other people in recovery around, your loved one may feel lonely and misunderstood.

The good news is that much pain, awkwardness, and discomfort can be avoided if expectations are kept realistic on all sides and communication between you and your loved one in recovery remains open and honest.

Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving with a Family Member of Friend in Early Recovery

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving with a family member in recovery from substance abuse, here are some tips that may make the dinner and socialization go smoothly. With these tips, you can make your Thanksgiving celebration a time for everybody to reconnect, relax and enjoy some good food as you give thanks for all you have.

Find out where your loved one’s comfort level lies.

Speak frankly with them before planning on their presence at Thanksgiving and find out if they feel ready for this gathering. Allow them the option to decline the invitation without holding it over their head or creating guilty feelings. Let them know their recovery always comes first, and it is better to miss them for one day of the year than increase their likelihood of relapsing.

Be honest with yourself and have your loved one do the same: Are you truly ready to celebrate Thanksgiving together?

There may be unresolved resentment, hurt feelings, or shame around addiction that may create awkwardness if not everybody is on the same page regarding recovery. Without full support from all your dinner guests, your loved one may feel rejection, pain, and shame, all feelings that may trigger a relapse. Addiction affects the whole family, and gatherings such as a big Thanksgiving feast may not be ideal until these issues are resolved.

Remember that you are not responsible for their actions.

Your loved one is a fully grown person, capable of making their own decisions. Even if it is your parent, child, or friend, you do not have to force yourself into their decision-making. If they do not want special accommodations, you may need to accept that they know what is best for themselves and act accordingly.

Include non-alcoholic options if they wish.

Find out what types of accommodations they would benefit from. Some people appreciate unique “mocktail” beverages or non-alcoholic beer or wine, so they can feel included in the celebrations and not make a spectacle out of their sober choices. Still, these may be triggers for others as they are reminders of the real thing or remind them they cannot drink anymore. Coffee, hot cocoa, juice, or tea are usually welcome neutral options.

Allow them to invite another sober person to your dinner.

It may feel strange to have a guest at your family dinner, but for your loved one in recovery, especially if beer or wine is being served or if other triggers are present, it may be helpful for them to have another non-drinker, who is not a child, to socialize with.

Provide time and space to step away if they need it.

Many people in recovery could benefit from having the option of stepping away into a private room or another area where they cannot be overheard to call a sponsor, peer, or counselor if they are struggling. They need to remain in touch with people who understand what they are going through. They may also need to physically distance themselves from substances and temptations, or triggering people and places, so allow them the option to take a head-clearing walk or to leave dinner early.

Encourage your loved one to think ahead.

They should take steps such as identifying potential triggers and temptations that should be avoided, and they should know what to do if these triggers do come up during your gathering. You may want to gently remind them that no matter how bad things may feel, a relapse is not worth it. You can also offer to be there for them if relapse does occur, judgment and shame-free, to immediately help them get back on track. To be on their team is to be a good ally through this difficult time.

Most importantly, listen to your loved one and respect their wishes.

If they do not require any special accommodations to be made, and everybody involved is comfortable with their being present during Thanksgiving, then it is best to continue as planned. Conversely, if your loved one does not feel comfortable being there, even if you really want them to come, do not guilt them into making an appearance.

Addiction Treatment and Recovery Support at Muse Treatment Center

At Muse Treatment Center, through a combination of medical detox, behavioral/one-on-one/group therapy, nutrition and physical fitness counseling, education, mindfulness, art therapy, life skills programs, and spiritual practices. We help our clients heal from the inside out, including celebrating Thanksgiving with a family member in recovery from substance abuse.

We help each patient get to the underlying root of their addiction through a customized regimen of therapy, and along with counseling, psychiatric care, and clinical treatments, our inpatient and outpatient rehab programs connect you with a sober community. We can help anybody stop using drugs and alcohol, change their mindset, and become the person they want to be.

Family Counselling

We also offer family counseling, beneficial in that it helps you and your family:

  • Resolve conflicts
  • Improve communication
  • Deepen connections
  • Deal with feelings of guilt, trust issues and intense emotions
  • Get through stressful times
  • Learn more about addiction and recovery
  • Change problematic behaviors
  • Understand one another better

Outpatient Treatment

For those who have completed an inpatient rehab program at Muse, many outpatient rehab programs are available to help you put your sobriety skills into practice in the real world while remaining fully supported by our caring and professional staff for as long as you need.

Our outpatient programs use a three-pronged approach to addiction treatment:

1. Therapy: Group and individual therapy help work through life problems, find the root of addiction, put life into perspective, develop coping skills, deal with unwanted feelings, and help use introspection to make sweeping, behavioral changes. Common group therapy topics and programs include:

  • Mental health
  • Self-awareness
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Family dynamics
  • Life skills
  • Creative outlets
  • Overcoming trauma

2. 12-Step Integration: The traditional 12-step method for addiction treatment is a beneficial practice for many of our patients. The process recognizes that its participants have no power over addiction and compulsive behavior; it helps to take stock of their life and identify a higher power that can help them reclaim control over their life. They will be provided with a sponsor who will be there when times become complicated as they live their lives outside our facility. The guidelines set out by the founders of the 12-step program have a proven success rate for those with addictions, incorporating spirituality into the process for a fully holistic healing experience.

3. Case Management: We will work with our patients to fill any life-skills gaps they may have to overcome barriers to employment and social programs, like job-hunting skills, resume building, interviewing, and organizational skills.

Types of Outpatient Treatment at Muse

There are two main types of outpatient programs available: Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).


In the PHP, patients live outside the facility but commute for full days of treatment, treating rehab as a full-time job. They will begin to focus on personal responsibility while getting to the root of their addiction, gaining recovery skills, and receiving guidance and support from staff.


In the IOP, patients can build their own treatment schedule, as we work with each individual to help them receive treatment while they remain at work, school, or taking care of family or other responsibilities. This usually entails therapy, groups, and other programming in the evenings and on weekends, as they maintain a normal daily routine.

Our outpatient programs are best suited for those who:

  • Are not experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms
  • Are highly motivated in their treatment
  • Are willing to take responsibility for getting to all appointments and meetings
  • Have support at home, live in a sober living facility, and have a network of sober-friendly individuals they can turn to if they experience difficulties

At Muse, we have alumni programs, and each of our patients can return to the facility, call or book an appointment, even when they are no longer in an official outpatient program when they need extra support. We can connect them with 12-step meetings, peer support, or health care professionals to ensure all needs are being met. Our goal is to ensure everybody who needs help has somewhere to turn. Contact Muse today at (800) 426-1818 to find out more about supporting your loved one during the holidays, medical detox, or the outpatient rehab programs we offer. 

Recovery,Sober Living,
Josh Chandler
Call Now, We Can Help
Call Now Button (800) 426-1818