If you’re in recovery from a drug addiction or an alcohol use disorder, holidays like Halloween can be frightful in more ways than one. Wherever you go, you may face familiar triggers in the form of people, places, behaviors and even objects. In past years, you may have tricked yourself into thinking that drinking and using drugs were great ways to spend All Hallows’ Eve, only to feel more haunted than happy the next day. Now that you’re sober, you can treat yourself to a whole new way to revel in the Halloween spirit, and nix the tricks and triggers altogether.
How Celebrating Halloween at Home Benefits Your Recovery
One of the best ways to avoid emotional, situational and physical triggers this Halloween is to celebrate in an environment where you can be completely comfortable and in control: your house. With countless triggers outside your door, throwing your own party is one of the best ways to protect yourself and stay safe and sober.
When you’re new to recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, celebrating Halloween at home is one of the best ways to avoid trolls, tricks and triggers. At your own Halloween party, you can:
- Steer clear of old haunts: Visiting places where you used to use drugs or drink can trigger feelings of guilt and shame and can even tempt you to use harmful substances again. Unless your home was one of these places, by staying home for Halloween, you put your mental and physical well-being first and avoid harmful environments.
- Choose who to invite: When you attend someone else’s Halloween party, you may risk running into a ghost from your past, old enabling friends and other unpleasant people. By throwing your own party, you’ll be in control of the guest list and can invite friends and family members who support your sobriety.
- Create your own party drinks: The amount of alcohol at some Halloween gatherings can be overwhelming. By hosting your own party, you don’t have to worry about being exposed to alcohol and can make your mocktails as spirited as you please, sans the spirits.
- Decide which activities to include: Many Halloween parties encourage guests to drink to have a good time. When you organize your own house party, you can plan activities that don’t require any dangerous substances. Some ideas include pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, playing a board game or watching a classic Halloween movie.
Going Out for Halloween? Plan Ahead to Avoid Triggers
If you live with a friend, reside in a sober housing community or if your home is not conducive to a drug-free Halloween celebration (e.g., you may have used drugs there), fear not. You can still celebrate Halloween wherever you go, and planning ahead can ensure your safety and sobriety.
Before venturing out, plan your activities, including an exit strategy, ahead of time so that you can have a happy Halloween on your own terms. On October 31, you can plan to:
- Go to a Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or sober Halloween event in your area
- Go to events where other sober people will be in attendance
- Stay out only until a specific time
- Bring a sober friend or accountability partner with you wherever you go
- Have a contingency plan or exit strategy if you face familiar triggers
- Have a reliable mode of transportation in case you need to leave unexpectedly
Do Fright Night Right With a Setback Prevention Plan
To celebrate Halloween and your sobriety simultaneously, consider crafting a setback prevention plan. With detailed information and steps tailored to your needs, this plan can help you successfully navigate potentially triggering situations and can be useful long after All Hallows’ Eve. To create your own strategy, read through The Recovery Village guide on how to make a setback prevention plan.
A Setback Isn’t a Death Sentence
If you face old triggers on Halloween and experience a setback, know that it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You’ve come so far in your recovery and made such great progress, and you can continue to do so, despite setbacks. Instead of stewing in silence and shame, reach out to your sponsor, a confidante or your accountability partner and talk about what happened. People who love you and support your sobriety won’t judge you harshly, and instead can offer empathy and advice for your continued recovery.