The excitement for Halloween is building as people are putting the finishing touches on their costumes and coordinating parties for the big night. While it is a wholesome holiday for kids to enjoy trick-or-treating, holiday gatherings can be a challenge for adults who are working to maintain sobriety. Unfortunately for those in recovery, Halloween tends to be the kick-off event for a fun, booze-filled holiday season.
It is common for people to lower their inhibitions while enjoying the night in costume. As a result, these parties often serve plenty of alcohol, as well as designer drugs that appear innocent when a person is hiding behind a mask.
Sober Activities for Halloween
Just because this holiday is a time when people like to party, it doesn’t mean that you need to lose your progress in sobriety. Halloween is a great opportunity to learn how to have a good time without turning to old habits that involved drugs and alcohol. Here are a few suggestions to help:
- Find Friends Who Don’t Drink: Look for people who love to laugh and have a good time, without the need to turn to substances to lubricate the social setting. Leaning on the support from sober friends can be helpful, so you don’t feel inclined to fall victim to peer pressure when others are drinking.
- Hand Out Candy: Do you live in an area where trick-or-treaters come door to door? Stay home to hand out candy. It is amazing to see the gratification that comes from the excited children and neighbourhood connection on this night. If your neighbourhood doesn’t participate in trick-or-treating, look for a community event, such as a “trunk or treat,” where you can join in the festivities.
- Start a New Halloween Tradition: Right now is a great time to start new traditions with your family. For example, you could have a Halloween movie marathon at home or go to the theatre to see a new movie. Another option is to host a fall-themed feast with friends. Or, volunteer at a community center to connect with other people in the area.
- Go to a Meeting: In a situation where 12- Step is the recovery program you are following, consider the option to attend a meeting and fellowship with others in recovery. Raise your hand at a 12-step meeting and see if any sober events are available that you can attend on Halloween. People who are also in alcohol recovery might be able to recommend local events.
- Get Out of Town: Sometimes the temptation is too strong when you are near friends and family who drink. Hop on a plane or pack the car and head out to enjoy nature for a few days. Enjoy the opportunity to disconnect from your busy schedule in a place where you won’t see costumes or pumpkins.
- Throw a Party: You don’t need to wait for others to throw a party that provides the supportive environment you need. Take matters into your own hands by hosting a party at your home or another location. Send out invitations with clear guidelines that it is a sober event. Then, plan fun activities like costume contests, games, pumpkin carving, and more.
The Importance of Having a Plan in Place
Even with the best intentions, temptations might come up on Halloween. It is common for holidays to trigger cravings for alcohol or drugs because of memories and experiences. Remember that this season can be a tough emotional time, which increases the risk that you will want to turn to a high to escape the challenging feelings.
As with other times that trigger your cravings, be ready with an action plan so that you don’t slip back into old habits. Consider a conversation with your therapist to prevent a mistake. Also, be ready to call your sponsor if you need help working through the issues. Creating a plan (and backup plan) gives you somewhere to turn when you need to be distracted from your old habits. These steps can help you be prepared for any feelings or emotions that come up during the holiday season.