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If your active addiction was focused on going out and making the scene, hanging out with groups of friends and using any excuse to get loaded, then Halloween can be one of those holidays that sneaks up on you in recovery. Everyone talks about New Year’s Eve as being a threat to sobriety – and it absolutely is – but so are other holidays where the general atmosphere of the night across the country involves celebration, pranks, and partying fun. If you are one of those people who really enjoys dressing up and decorating for Halloween, it can be especially difficult to stay sober on this night, but then again, you may be better equipped than anyone to really dive in and make the most of the holiday in recovery.
Here are a few ways you can avoid relapse on Halloween and still have a good time:
Make your costume amazing. You can spend weeks and tons of energy on deciding on your costume, gathering the materials to make it happen, and getting it just right. To make it social, get together with sober friends and do a themed group costume or help each other make every costume amazing.
Go to a meeting and/or a sober Halloween event. There are always 12-Step meetings, group therapy sessions, alumni group meetings, and sober Halloween parties you can attend on October 31st. If there isn’t, speak up at your next group meeting and find out if there is any support for an impromptu sober Halloween community meeting or event.
Throw a Halloween party with your sober friends. Get together with friends to plan a Halloween party that will be sober and tailored to your interests. Work together to make an amazing meal or a buffet of Halloween-themed snacks like veggie graves in a hummus graveyard and spiderweb mini cheesecakes, curate the playlists, pick out decorations, and get dressed up just for your group or invite other sober friends as well.
Host a horror movie night. No time, money, or interest in planning a big shindig? No problem. You can still stay at home where you feel safe and invite people in to hang out. Binge watch Halloween episodes of your favorite TV programs or watch scary movies, and ask everyone to bring a Halloween-themed snack.
Hand out treats. Halloween is all about the kiddos, and if you live in an area where there are kids trick or treating, take advantage and hand out candy on Halloween. Get cozy on your front step with a blanket and a big bucket of awesome treats, and enjoy the excitement of the little kids who can’t wait to tell you all about their costume.
Stay in and read a scary book. If the social aspect of Halloween is making you feel uncomfortable, then there is no reason why you can’t spend the evening at home reading a book, drawing, or enjoying the holiday in your own way.
Blow off Halloween and do something relaxing instead. If Halloween is causing you stress, respond by doing something relaxing. Get a massage, workout, listen to music, or go to bed early – whatever you like to do to kick back and forget the rest of the world.
Get productive. If your job has hours for you on Halloween because everyone else wants to go out, why not pick up an extra shift? If you have a long to-do list that you feel like you’ll never get through, pick something and get it done on Halloween. Rather than putting yourself at risk of relapse, it is a much healthier choice to do that organizing, recovery journaling, cleaning, or work project you have been wanting to get done for months.
Do you have friends you can hang out with who will keep you accountable and help you stay sober? Do you have a list of phone numbers you can call if you start to feel like you want to drink or get high? What do you do to shore up your recovery on holidays like Halloween? How can you make sure you have everything you need to make positive choices and avoid relapse?