Holidays are often a challenging time for people in recovery who are trying to stay sober. Increased events comes with increased opportunity to be in situations where alcohol is easily accessible. Halloween is a perfect example of this. It’s the first widely celebrated holiday to kick off a series of Fall and Winter events that often center around alcohol.
When there is heavy emphasis on drinking, it can feel impossible to stay sober on Halloween. Your level of discipline on this day often sets the tone for the rest of the holiday season. The following list will give you a few ideas to help you enjoy and champion the night sans drink.
1. Don’t stay home alone.
Staying home alone on a holiday can be difficult for most people, much less those in recovering form alcoholism. Your mind can be your worst enemy, and spending holidays alone can elicit feelings of depression and defeat. You’re more likely to approve having a drink if there isn’t anyone else there to hold you accountable and support your alcohol monitoring efforts.
Instead of staying home by yourself, change the narrative and craft a plan ahead of time. Find something to do on Halloween night, either with a group of friends in recovery or with friends who support your sobriety. Spending an evening with a group of people you care about and who care about you can sometimes make all the difference in navigating your recovery.
2. Look up local recovery-based events to attend.
Many recovery groups host alcohol-free events on holidays. Local 12-step groups often hold Halloween-themed parties, activities, or dances and act as an alternative for those looking to be free of temptation.
Find an Alano club that can update you on Halloween events coming up in your area. Either find a friend to go with or go on your own and meet some new people. Since it’s a recovery-centered event, chances are you’ll feel safer and supported surrounded sober people, too.
3. Host your own sober Halloween party.
Throw your own sober Halloween party. Look online to come up with fun ideas for alcohol-free Halloween-themed drinks and snacks. Maybe even host a potluck where everyone brings their favorite spooky treat or dish.
People can gather and visit while nibbling on an assortment of food and drinks. You can come up with different games to play, have a costume contest, or challenge the group to a board game. The focus is on spending time with each other and making sure everyone has a safe and sober place to enjoy Halloween.
4. If you have kids, bring a sober friend with you to take your kids trick-or-treating.
A holiday widely celebrated by young and old, Halloween offers making memories from constructing costumes to competing for candy. For parents, Halloween is, in large, an opportunity to spend quality time with your children. Half the fun is helping your child decide who they want to dress up as and picking out their costume. Making the costume by scratch can also provide additional bonding opportunities and memories made.
On the night of Halloween, walk with your child as they go trick or treating. All the better if you can link up with a sober friend who is also a parent, and hit the pavement together. You both can support one another in your sobriety, helping each other stay focused on alcohol-monitoring and spending quality time with your kids.
5. Gather some friends for a horror movie night.
Hosting a horror movie night at your house with a group of your friends is another fun way to stay sober on Halloween. Have each guest bring their favorite horror movie, then vote for which movie(s) make the cut.
For additional fun, combine a horror movie night with a sober Halloween party. Have a movie playing on the TV in the background for people to tune into if they’re interested. Film canadd additional entertainment to an already lively setting.
6. Volunteer for a Halloween event hosted at your local community center or church.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to stay sober on Halloween or during any other time of the year. When volunteering, you keep the focus off of you and on helping others. Most community centers and churches host Halloween events at their facilities. These events offer families safe alternatives to bring their children to for a night of spooky fun.
Hosting any large occasion requires ample help and assistance, and community events are no different. Offering to help your local community center or church will keep you occupied on Halloween and will benefit others as well. Stop by a church or community center near you to view their seasonal agenda and find out how you can participate in upcoming events.
7. Find haunted houses or horror-themed amusement parks.
Many theme parks decorate their properties for Halloween, offering a completely different experience for guests who visit at night. They set up extensive and immersive haunted houses and mazes in their parks that visitors can walk through. Depending on the theme park, sensory experiences range from light and fun to intense and terrifying.
Select a couple of close friends or coordinate a larger group and find a theme park with Halloween offerings. Since this activity is usually night related, make a day out of it and get dinner before heading over to the park for a fun night of frights.
8. If you end up at a non-sober party, keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand.
You might end up in a position where you have to make an appearance at a non-sober Halloween party. While attending the party may be uncomfortable, this shouldn’t mean you’re facing defeat, even if you’re new to recovery. There are a few ways to get through the party without giving in to temptation.
A simple solution is to keep a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand at all times throughout the night. People are less likely to offer you a drink if you already have one in your hand. Most times, they won’t even ask what you’re drinking, so you can keep a low profile throughout the entire evening.
If you feel worried about going to a non-sober party alone, enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member. Bringing a plus-one you trust provides you with accountability and direction during the party.
9. Go to a 12-step meeting.
12-step meetings run every day of the week in thousands of places throughout the country. The night of Halloween is no different when it comes to locating support groups for alcohol monitoring. Find and attend a 12-step meeting if you’re having difficulty staying sober on Halloween. Some meeting halls host events that combine a fun, party atmosphere alongside a few meetings, an even better way to spend the night if given the option.
10. Prepare yourself for the cravings that will most likely come.
Many people in recovery struggle with cravings throughout their sobriety, no matter how much time they have. While the cravings are likely to rear their ugly head, that doesn’t mean you need to give into them. If you’re still new to recovery, understand that these temptations are normal and do not mean defeat is on the horizon.
You’re more likely to stay sober if you go into the holiday season with a plan. You’re capable of staying sober on Halloween just as much as you’re capable of staying sober during any other holiday this year. Communicate with those closest to you and prepare yourself for occasional obstacles. Most importantly, enjoy the holiday season and give yourself space to learn and grow.
For those in search of a tool to help navigate their recovery journey, consider Soberlink, a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system that combines a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity to help those in recovery. For more information, please visit www.soberlink.com
About the Author
Elliott Redwine is a freelance writer based in Southern California with a passion for all things related to recovery. He hopes to help those seeking a solution for substance and alcohol abuse find a new way of life.