Halloween has become a challenging holiday for people in recovery – but don’t let that scare you. The freedom of recovery allows us to celebrate the spirit of October 31, unhindered by the mask of drugs and alcohol. Of course, staying away from bars and parties where drinking is prevalent is a given if you are new to recovery. The good news is you can plan a spooky night filled with much more tricks and treats that make Halloween such an entertaining holiday. So, out with the old ghosts and in with recovery.
Checkout five tips for a creepy and clean, spooky and sober Halloween (costumes are always a MUST, MUST, MUST):
Control your environment and control your triggers. Create a safe and scary space for friends to gather on Halloween. The options for eerie décor, food, games, and activities are endless. Include some throwback childhood activities like pumpkin-carving, bobbing for apples, a costume contest or a couple of rounds of fright-themed trivia. Be sure to provide or potluck ghoulish treats – explore more ideas and recipes.
Hand out candy or go with little ones in your life on a trick or treating adventure. If you stay home, get some of the good candy and enjoy the little goblins and ghouls, the superheroes and princesses that come to your door. Decorate your home and make it a fun experience for your little visitors and your neighbors. Make a creepy-themed playlist, light some candles and enjoy the ambiance of the evening in between your visitors. No trick or treaters? Gather your sober pals and head to a haunted house for super chilling frights.
There are many organizations needing volunteers for community events on Halloween. Some even include taking children trick or treating. You can enjoy the best of Halloween while giving back to your community – and strengthening your recovery through service. Search your local non-profits to see if they need any volunteers to help with their Halloween festivities.
Your favorite films are easy to find on demand. Whether your taste bends to classic slasher flicks or you prefer a more cartoonish vibe, the horror genre has endless options to create your personally curated Halloween movie marathon. Of course, there are the classics like the original Halloween, Friday the 13th and Night of the Living Dead. Then there are the family friendly films like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice or Hocus Pocus. You can even dig deep into the creepy archives with the Bela Lugosi versions of Son of Frankenstein, The Return of the Vampire or The Wolf Man. So shut off the lights, get the popcorn ready, and enjoy the show with friends and family.
Going to a 12-step meeting on October 31, even more than one if necessary, can stave off urges, boredom and loneliness. Halloween at AA meetings can be tons of fun. Dress in your costume and be part of the experience. Explore what your group has planned or look around your AA community for the right spooky sober experience on All Hallow’s Eve. Spending time with people in recovery on holidays like Halloween can empower you as you navigate the potential bumps in the road. For anyone with anxiety or stressors heightened by Halloween norms and traditions, it is important to have a plan on how to deal with all of the holiday customs. Avoid situations that you know are trigger risks and keep an AA or NA meeting schedule within reach. There are also meetings that do not focus on the holiday. Make a plan and stick to it.
This Halloween, do not fear relapse; empower your recovery by being actively engaged in the holiday haunts. A big part of relieving holiday-induced stress comes from self-care. Take care of yourself by eating healthy (maybe the most difficult task), getting enough rest and staying active or exercising daily. Embrace the season with spooky traditions that strengthen your sobriety, engage your family and friends and showcase the true joy of recovery.
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