Halloween is a fun, celebratory holiday, and like all celebratory holidays, it can quickly become a trigger for relapse for those who often found their fun inside a pill, baggy of cocaine, or a bottle. The good news is that there are a number of ways to take part in the Halloween holiday and protect yourself from drinking and using drugs.
Here are a just a few things you can do to avoid relapse this Halloween:
- Head to a meeting or sober event.
The more metropolitan your area and the more active your sober community, the more options you will have in terms of attending sober events. You may find that there is a 12-Step meeting or two being held at different locations around town or that a sober Halloween party has been organized. If you are interested in finding an event that will surround you with sober people who are in the Halloween spirit, raise your hand at some meetings in the weeks prior to the holiday and ask for information. If there is not something happening already, you may inspire someone to throw something together for the community.
- Get a meeting schedule and double check that all meetings are happening.
- Look for community-wide sober events.
- Consider events at religious or spiritual organizations – just make sure that they will be sober as well.
- If all else fails, find an online or virtual “live” meeting in progress. Don’t overlook Twitter and other social media as forums for recovery.
- Throw your own sober Halloween hoedown.
Or, haunted house or horror movie marathon, or invite friends over to hang out on the stoop and hand out candy to kids who come looking for treats. You can set it up as a community sober event at a location where your favorite meetings are frequently held, take it outside, or have it at your own home, depending on the number of people you expect to attend. Include some sober friends in the planning process and have just as much fun putting it together as you will the day it happens.
- Make sure that everyone on the guest list is informed that it is a sober event and what that means.
- Keep it small and simple.
- Ask people to help out by bringing decorations, nonalcoholic drinks, candy, or snacks.
- If you’re having it at home, talk to your roommates and neighbors in advance.
- Bring a sober trick-or-treat partner with you.
If you prefer to be out in the thick of trick-or-treaters, or if there is a Halloween festival or concert you really want to attend but it will put you in contact with a number of people who are under the influence, it is a good idea to have a sober partner or two with you when you head out. These people can help you have fun without feeling as if you are “missing out” by not using drugs or alcohol. They can also be there to talk it out if you are feeling triggered, and encourage you to make positive choices if you are struggling.
- Plan in advance where you will meet, where you will go, and how you will get there.
- Dress up in correlating costumes.
- Have multiple destinations to go to together.
- Make sure you have everyone’s cell number in case you get separated.
- Have a way out.
No matter what precautions you take, you may still find you are feeling like drinking or getting high. This is normal, especially in early recovery or if you have been going through a rough patch in your recovery. It says nothing negative about who you are or the progress you have made in recovery if you find that Halloween brings out a craving. You can protect yourself by making sure you have a “way out” or a plan B that will allow you to safely exit the situation you find yourself in and get to a place of emotional stability.
- Know where the closest 12-Step meeting
- Have your own method of transportation if you lose your friends or need to leave.
- Have phone numbers of people who have agreed to be available to you if you need to talk.
- Have a backup location you can spend the night where you will feel emotionally safe.
- Skip the whole thing.
Halloween can be a lot of fun, but if you just aren’t interested in dealing with it, or if it feels like more trouble or risk to your sobriety than it’s worth, give yourself permission to skip it. Remember, though, that depending on where you live, Halloween may not leave you alone, so consider your surroundings and plan accordingly.
- Turn off front door or porch lights to send the message to trick-or-treaters that you are not home.
- Head to a movie theater during peak trick-or-treating hours after sundown or during peak partying hours, depending on what will be most impactful on your home.
- Head out of town on a camping trip or to an otherwise remote location where you can avoid the bulk of the revelry.
- Have a friend over who is also interested in avoiding the Halloween focus of the day.
How do you stay sober on Halloween?