How to Celebrate a SOBER Halloween
Happy October! It’s spooky season. For some, this time of year brings excitement, overall joy, and comfort. For others, October is a time nearing the holidays that brings up uncomfortable memories and unwanted temptations. Halloween is one of those holidays known best for partying hard, binge drinking, and letting your freak flag fly. For those of us in recovery, this is the exact opposite of what we want or need at this time of our lives. So how can we manage to stay sober during the hollows? Do we avoid the fun and crazy vibes altogether or try turning it into something still worthwhile? Is Halloween even possible without drugs or alcohol? There are a few ways to get through the hype while still staying clean and level-headed. Here are some ideas to go about a sober Halloween.
Decide on a Plan Beforehand
The best tip for ensuring a sober Halloween is to plan ahead. Don’t wait until last minute to rush and find something to do on Halloween, as that can leave room for impulsive decisions we might later regret. Whether you plan on staying home and treating the day like any other, or you want to dress up and still celebrate the occasion, make sure you know your options.
If you have a family this makes things a little easier. Trick-or-Treating door to door can create some fond memories if you let your kids dress up and collect candy. Carving pumpkins, baking sweets, or making fall-themed projects can always bring the family closer together and make for a sweet sober Halloween.
If you’re single, plan to either keep things mellow when the night comes or meet up with some friends who won’t pressure you to do anything you don’t want to do. This is up to personal preference obviously, but whatever your plan may be, make sure it’s one you look forward to and can foresee with confidence the opportunity of staying drug-free.
Be Honest and Communicate
If you’re newly sober or still committed to recovery and don’t feel comfortable relying on yourself to get through the night without temptation, go to a support group, sober friend’s place, or some kind of 12-step meeting. There are all kinds of people out there who are experiencing the exact feelings as you so don’t be afraid to reach out. Keeping a sober Halloween time isn’t always easy. Don’t let any feeling of embarrassment or guilt keep you from admitting you need a little extra guidance on Halloween.
This is also a time where certain darker or shadowy aspects of ourselves can come up. Something about the overall theme of Halloween asks us to free ourselves of trying to be someone we present to the world through our daily lives. The “masks” we wear can say a lot about deeper things we wish to work on, especially during recovery and big life-changes. If you need someone by your side to talk through any of these sides of honesty, confusion, or pain, make sure to let yourself remain open and process it all.
Hit up your sponsor, best friend, or an understanding family member. Someone to trust can make all the difference when we experience times of doubt or struggle. Having an honest conversation with someone who knows you and your story can be a good chance for them to tell it to you like it is, and help you make the best decision to navigate through the night.
No matter what you choose to do on the night of, remember that Halloween brings a lot of ominous activity in any area. Mostly this consists of erratic behavior, pranks, drivers under the influence, and mischief in the community. Even though you might not be consuming alcohol or doing drugs, it’s still smart to stay aware of your surroundings and remain safe. Avoid driving during the mid to late evening in crowded areas if you can. If you do drive, be extra cautious of traffic and other drivers.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who thinks driving is something that relaxes you and helps keep your mind at ease, offer to be someone else’s designated driver. Uber drivers probably make some good money on Halloween so if that’s your thing, make a work night out of it. Again just remember to stay extra safe and use your gut as you go through all the extra nightlife energy.
Know your local non-emergency dispatch phone number in case anything sketchy happens you feel a need to report.
Volunteer Your Time
Maybe the idea of helping other people out appeals to you but you would rather not drive people around as a DD. If this is the case, there are plenty of other volunteer opportunities on Halloween, surprisingly. These giving opportunities can actually be pretty fun.
Carnivals, food drives, haunted houses, church “trunk or treat” events, and homeless shelters all need volunteer work on Halloween. Helping out another person is a great way to get your mind off of your personal temptations and instead focused on a specific task at hand. Every person has their own natural skills and strong suits when it comes to service. Volunteering is also a way to discover, deepen, and express these aspects of yourself. Also, it’s totally free, you can meet new people, see some entertaining sights, feel a sense of fulfillment, and maybe enjoy some free treats at the end of the event.
Nobody wants to miss out on something they wish they could be a part of. If you start feeling bummed out about not being able to go drink or let loose like you used to on Halloween evenings, try to remember all the consequences you’re avoiding: intense hangovers, DUI’s, potentially losing your wallet or ruining half your costume in a crowd of people at a sweaty club (yes it’s happened. Not fun.). Instead of moping, try making something new of it.
There’s no room for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because honestly, what are you “missing out” on by not getting drunk or high? Nothing. A huge amount of the population likely won’t remember their night upon waking the next day. Be proud of yourself for staying accountable and being different.
Substance-Free Thrills for Scary Fans
One fun (and still in the spirit of keeping things scary) activity to do on a sober Halloween is visiting a haunted-theme amusement park. Places like “Fright Fest” Magic Mountain or another local park near you hold Halloween-themed late-night rides and wonders. Go with a sober friend, a strong group of coworkers, or family members to ride some thrill rides and get spooked. You can dress up at these types of gigs as creepy or as ridiculous as you want and still ride roller coasters or even people watch if that’s what you prefer.
Be mindful that a lot of these places still sell booze on occasion. However, it likely won’t be tempting in my opinion as one drink costs upwards of $13.00 which is not even worth it. Either way staying with a sober group of people is a merry choice. A theme park is a perfect place for any crew of adrenaline junkies to have fun and tire yourselves out on a sober Halloween.
If a theme park is out of the question, other spooky options exist such as the following:
- Haunted houses/mansions
- Ghost tours
- Guided night hikes
- Family-friendly concerts, carnivals, outdoor events
- Flash mobs or community Halloween dance parties
- Cheap horror movie marathons at the $3 movie theatre
Stay Inside, Stay Lowkey
If you’re all around overwhelmed or uninterested in Halloween, there’s nothing wrong with staying inside and avoiding the world for the night. Make it a festive (or not festive at all if you could care less!) evening to catch up on laundry, cook a delicious meal, and go to bed early with the earplugs in. Play with your pets. Hangout with your family or maybe make a casual game night out of it. Plenty of people who aren’t big fans of Halloween simply turn out the lights and pretend not to be home to no offense of anyone seeking to party outside. Know your interests and stick to them however you need.
~ Get Creative ~
If these ideas don’t interest you, or if you’ve exhausted a lot of these options already and want to try something different, get creative with it! This can go as far as something totally out there to the point of people questioning your sanity, or as simple as circling the neighborhoods (if you feel safe doing so) to pick up trash.
One year I saw a woman in a booth at the end of the street of a small community of families trick-or-treating. She was offering free psychic readings to people. Probably not the most profitable sober Halloween idea, but she seemed to enjoy what she was doing and there was a line of people waiting to have their fortunes read.
Setting up a flash mob is a fun and entertaining way to keep the spirit of Halloween going while still saving money and staying sober. Some cities hold annual Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” flash mob dances where you dress up like zombies from the music video and coordinate a grand performance. Fun for everyone and a true classic.
For more introverted folks, you can check out museums, make some funky seasonal artwork, hold a book club, perform a seance (just kidding!) (unless you actually want to conjure zombies, whatever, we won’t judge you) or stay home and watch all the haunted stories from interesting creatives on YouTube.
Having a Sober Halloween Depends on You
There are endless ways to think up ideas for enjoying a sober Halloween. Most of all, whether you’re freshly sober, have said your goodbyes to raging parties decades ago, or simply want to release those old habits that no longer serve you, staying sober on Halloween is totally possible. It’s also enjoyable.
Know your boundaries, know yourself, and be aware of the amount of temptation you might be exposed to. Make the decisions your future self will thank you for. Don’t blindly agree to anything you don’t want to do, and stay away from any people in your life you know will only bring peer pressure or bad news by the early morning.
If you want to have a sober Halloween don’t forget to check your priorities before planning or going out. You’re the only person responsible for your actions so make sure you act according to the best interest of your recovery.
The truth is things happen, and we can fall into relapse. You can definitely stand as a strong individual who holds their ground and hopefully, this remains the case. It’s intriguing to yourself and everyone else if you commit to staying sober. And every time you overcome a weak moment, give yourself some credit because it’s not always easy! If it’s not so easy to the point of experiencing relapse, however, it’s still another chance to get back on track. Get help and go to your support system as soon as you can if a relapse does occur.
We Can Help
If you still feel a struggle as the holiday approaches, feel free to call one of our professionals at the Addiction Helpline. If you or someone you care about is going through an addiction or even a relapse, we can find an effective treatment center or support group as soon as you need. We are here to help you so don’t hesitate to reach out!
Best wishes to you if you’re still reading this and considering what to do to stay on track for a sober Halloween. It’s possible, and you can stay clean and still have a safe and fun night.
Comment below if you have any ideas or other favorite things you like to do for sober Halloween!
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