7 Ways to Stay Sober on Halloween
Halloween in recovery—especially early recovery—can be a challenge. Most parties involve alcohol. However, there are many fun ways to celebrate the holiday sober. Halloween is also a kid-centric holiday, meaning that most of us actually do have experience celebrating it sober, even before we enter recovery as adults.
To me, the scariest (and not in a fun way) Halloween would be one in which I relapsed. Below are some tips for protecting your sobriety and having fun this Halloween.
1. Make sure to have a non-alcoholic beverage of choice on you
If you’re going to parties this weekend or on Monday, it’s a great idea to bring your favorite seltzer, iced tea, soda, or even water bottle. Not every party has non-alcoholic options. Having a beverage to hold in your hands while everyone drinks can be helpful, especially in early sobriety. You can also bring Halloween-themed drinks like non-spiked cider.
2. Have people over
If you throw your own party, you have more control over whether there’s alcohol, or what other options are available. You could have a pumpkin-carving party, a scary movie night, a dance party with a spooky playlist, a Halloween crafts party, a costume party—or all of those in one. None of the above options require booze to be fun, and you’ll actually remember the fun you had.
3. Watch horror movies
To elaborate on the scary movie night listed above: watching horror movies in a sober space—either with friends, family, partners, or by yourself—is a great option if you’re worried about being tempted by alcohol or socializing sober. The lights will be dark, everyone’s attention will be on the TV, and—if you’re anything like me—the scariness will force you into the moment, rather than wishing you were somewhere getting drunk.
4. Visit haunted attractions
Halloween can be a fun time to go to a haunted house, do a ghost tour, or take a road trip (short or long) to a spooky place, like where a horror movie was filmed. Most haunted houses don’t involve booze, and being on the road could be a good buffer between you and alcohol.
5. Trick or Treat
Despite what we’re taught when we’re teenagers and trick-or-treating is suddenly uncool, you’re never too old to do so! It’s a fun and innocuous way of celebrating Halloween sober. If you get FOMO but don’t feel ready to be around booze, it can help you feel like you’re participating in the holiday without the temptation to drink.
6. Identify your triggers beforehand
You can’t always predict what will trigger you, but before any holiday plans, you can check in with yourself about what you expect may be challenging. You might talk this over with someone in your life who can then be a support, you might journal about it—whatever way you prefer to reflect. It’s helpful to think about what you’ll do if a challenge arises. For instance, if you’re worried about someone offering a drink, you can plan your response ahead of time.
7. Remember that no event is an obligation
In early sobriety, I found that it was important to be very honest with myself about what I could handle. Even if I wanted to go to a party, if I wasn’t in the right headspace, I found other ways to fill that time. Sometimes I’d go on a sober adventure with someone else; sometimes I’d have a quiet, relaxing night with people in my life; sometimes I’d find fun things to do on my own, like engaging in something creative, or reading, or watching a movie, or having a solo dance party.
There are always things to do if you don’t go to that one party, including if you spend the night by yourself. Prioritizing your recovery sometimes means skipping an event—but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make it to the next one.
Halloween is the start of an alcohol-heavy holiday season, and all of the above (swap Halloween-themed activities for other holiday-related ones) will continue to be applicable. You can make it through this holiday season sober—and when you do, you will have more practice, and more awareness of how you enjoy the holidays without drinking.
If you have any questions about recovery or sobriety or you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, TruHealing is here for you. Give us a call at (833) 641-0572 and we will be happy to help in any way we can. Have a safe and sober Halloween!