Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash
Holidays in general can feel overwhelming for a lot of people in recovery, particularly in the early days of sobriety. For many, they can be times for alcohol-fueled social gatherings, parties and special events. Halloween is certainly no exception and unless you’re a 12-and-under trick-or-treater, it’s a holiday that’s notorious for being a bit of a booze fest. Not only can the booze part be triggering, but for those accustomed to using alcohol as a social lubricant, the idea of mingling in large crowds without it can be downright terrifying. It really doesn’t have to be, though.
Halloween, in fact, can be wildly entertaining and fun in recovery, particularly if you can get a group of sober friends together. Believe it or not, the spooky holiday is ripe with possibilities for fun sober activities and here’s a list of some of our favorites:
- Host a Sober Halloween Party: Invite your friends over to your house if you have the space, or find someone in your network that does who wants to help you organize it. Decorate with fun Halloween-y things like cobwebs, spiders, ghosts, goblins, artificial coffins and dead roses. Have fun with the snacks and refreshments. Serve Halloween-themed cookies, pumpkin spiced hot chocolate, and “blood” juice (try something with beets if your crew is health conscious). You can even play spooky music à la Adams Family, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the list goes on. Get creative with your playlist and have fun. And, of course, make sure everyone comes in costume.
- Have a Horror Movie Marathon. Get a group of pals together to watch your favorite scary movies, or go to the theater to see one you haven’t watched yet. You’ll have a hard time finding a movie theater that’s NOT showing at least one horror film on Halloween night. It’s the perfect opportunity to have a little fright fest with your pals, or even on your own if you decide you just want to roll solo and spook yourself out on the couch alone with some popcorn. If you do wind up alone and you’re easily rattled, try choosing a fun horror film like Beetlejuice or Shaun of the Dead so you’re not too spooked out. Just have fun with it. That popcorn is what it’s all about.
- Go to a Haunted House. Grab your pals, your significant other, your kids, your friends’ kids, or all of the above and go to a haunted house or on a haunted hayride. Haunted houses are a great way to get a little sober adrenaline boost and the best part is that the adrenaline boost is totally substance free. It’s one of the coolest things you can do with others on Halloween and there are some seriously cool haunted houses out there. These can be “fake” haunted houses, solely designed to spook you, or if you’re feeling particularly gutsy, you can find a real live haunted house and make a real adventure out of it. For a list of cool haunted houses throughout the U.S. and Canada, head to Hauntedworld.com, and for the rest of the world, check out this very cool article in Conde Nast Traveler that lists 43 of the most haunted places in the world.
- Go to a 12-Step Meeting. If the idea of dealing with crowds and celebrations is just too much for you, and you don’t want to stay home alone either, head to a 12-step meeting (or any recovery support meeting that you identify with). There’s absolutely never and harm in going to a meeting and you’re almost guaranteed to find several people that feel the same way you do. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded people that “speak your language” and can identify, so go connect!
- Go trick or Treating. Okay, sure, you might get a few eye rolls from the people handing out candy but there’s nothing quite like letting the kid in you come out and trick-or-treating old school style with your friends. Just make sure you have really groovy costumes to make up for the fact that you’re probably going to be the oldest kids on the block knocking on doors for candy. You’ll get an “A” for effort and most people will admire your free-spiritedness. Better yet, bring your kids (if you have kids) or give your friends a break for the night and offer to take their kids out trick-or-treating. Then you can easily sneak your trick-or-treat bucket into the mix and avoid excessive eye rolls. Either way, just make sure you don’t take yourself too seriously. There’s nothing serious about Halloween. It’s not a religious holiday and it’s not really based on any real historical event. The whole point of Halloween is to get dressed up, eat candy, and have fun.
- Carve pumpkins. This is one of our absolute favorites. Yet again, it’s another activity that’s super fun in a group. It’s easy to find pumpkins around Halloween at the grocery store, but you can even make a day of it and go to the pumpkin patch with your friends before bringing your pumpkins home and having a pumpkin carving party. Refer back to the first idea on this list (Host a Sober Halloween Party) for snack, refreshment, and music ideas.
- Go on a Nightime Halloween Hike. Depending on where you are in the world, if weather permits, and provided there are no area restrictions after dark on the hiking route, go for a night hike with your friends. Bring flashlights, snacks, plenty of water to drink, and towels to sit on so you can stop mid-way to tell ghost stories. You can spook each other out along the way and sing your favorite Halloween songs as you go. Not only is this a fun thing to do, but it’s a great workout and it’s a totally booze-free adventure.
Do you have any fun sober Halloween ideas you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. In the meantime, have a super fun and spooky Halloween and just think about how happy you’ll be waking up totally hangover-free on November 1st, even after having epic amounts of Halloween fun the night before.
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If you or someone you know and love is struggling to get clean or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Contact us to learn more about our Residential Treatment Program as well as our Recovery and Beyond Program for those dealing with other process addictions and compulsive behavior patterns.