Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for all the things we’re grateful for, yet as we gather with family to celebrate, recovering addicts may be on edge. Family dynamics are put to the test when the “elephant in the room” is sitting right across the table.

Stares, suggestions, and snap judgments could turn what is supposed to be a joyful day into something the recovering addict dreads. Can Thanksgiving be tolerable, even while recovering?

Plan Ahead

Those in recovery who have Thanksgiving plans with family can prepare ahead of time to fend off any potential offenses. Even the most well-meaning family members can come across as intrusive when it comes to bringing up the sobriety subject. To keep a dinner table discussion at bay, a pre-Thanksgiving correspondence could shut things down before they even have a chance to start.

Sending an email or even a text could be sufficient. The recovering addict can give an overall update on their recovery, including how alcohol or drug rehab has affected them and what the future holds. By alerting family members and allowing them to reply with questions or concerns before coming together, it relieves the tension that would otherwise loom on Thanksgiving day. The pressure will be off everyone, and the meal will be free of speculation and worry.

Avoiding Alcohol

Wine and other spirits may be part of the Thanksgiving feast. Recovering alcoholics may have a hard time seeing others imbibe, while others are able to stay sober even when there’s drinking among the crowd. The recovering addict should let the host know where they fall on this spectrum, sidestepping any awkwardness or temptation.

As part of the update communication, the recovering addict may wish to address this topic too. This way, family members won’t have to puzzle over their level of comfort, or question their strength or stability.


Even with an advance message to family members, there still may be questions unanswered or basic curiosity come Thanksgiving day. As a recovering addict, it’s in their best interest to be straightforward and as honest as possible with your family, even if that means they don’t wish to discuss the matter at all.

For those who are open to sharing, keep it short and simple. No one wants the entire meal to be all about recovery, but clearing the air can be beneficial to move on and enjoy the rest of the day.

With clear communication and no space for shame or secrecy, family members will better understand what’s been happening and how it’s going. Their care and concern can’t be held back, and when their interest is sincere, it is supportive for the recovering addict. Naturally, there may be meddlers and nosy folks who may jump to conclusions or gossip. Being honest will keep these family members from going too far and causing friction or family squabbles.

Recovery is a long road, and family members are along for the ride. At Thanksgiving and always, appreciativeness is an asset. Looking on the bright side as recovery continues is the best way to get through family functions without fail.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, holistic help is available. Holidays can be especially rough, so reach out and recover. Please contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash