The holiday season can be a challenging time of year for individuals in recovery.
Since Halloween kicks off the season, it’s often the first major holiday for people who have recently committed to sobriety. While dressing up in costumes and gathering with friends can be fun, for someone in recovery, Halloween parties may pose a risk of relapse.
While reflecting on prior Halloween festivities, particularly those that involved substances, you may wonder if it’s even possible to enjoy Halloween as a sober individual. After all, no party is worth it if it undoes the hard work of sobriety. The good news is that, with a little creative planning, it isn’t necessary to skip Halloween at all.
3 fun ways to celebrate a sober Halloween
Similarly to all the other upcoming holiday celebrations, enjoying Halloween festivities without risking your recovery requires a little planning. Avoid participating in social gatherings that would typically include alcohol or other substances. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Halloween. Consider making these slight adjustments:
- Attend a local Halloween event: There are plenty of local Halloween events to choose from in the community that don’t revolve around substances. Look for a well-executed haunted house in your area and gather a group of sober friends to go with. Why not check out a theme park in the region that goes all out for Halloween?
- Throw a sober Halloween party: Consider hosting your own Halloween party. Serve some festive mocktails and hot apple cider, and create a fun spread of Halloween-themed appetizers and snacks. Add a scary movie to the evening’s lineup, and pass around some caramel popcorn for a nostalgic touch.
- Join the kids: If you happen to have young kids, or have a neighborhood full of them, why not join them in celebrating the spooky holiday? Create your own “haunted” garage, complete with thematic decor, a scary ambiance and creepy sounds to thrill the neighborhood kids — making your house a must-see.
Ways to protect sobriety during the holidays
Because the upcoming holiday season spans about three months, you can further strengthen your sobriety by adding these precautions:
- Prepare to depart: Have an escape plan at the ready when attending holiday festivities, including work-related holiday parties. Go with the intent of staying for a couple of hours, but be ready to leave if you encounter a
- Take a sober friend: It is much easier to navigate holiday events when you don’t have to go it alone. Take along a sober friend and have each other’s backs, leaving when either of you feels the need. Just tell the host you are on the way to another event, and off you go.
- Keep a non-alcoholic beverage in hand: In order to avoid constant offers of alcohol from well-meaning hosts who may not be aware you are in recovery, plan on keeping an alcohol-free beverage in your hand.
- Use stress management techniques: The holiday season might be fun, but can also induce high levels of stress. To keep stress under control, practice good self-care. Exercise regularly, take yoga classes, practice meditation and get quality sleep.
Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to just skip the holiday gatherings altogether during early recovery if that feels like the best option. Make your recovery the number one priority, whether it is the holiday season or not.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.