Cooler weather is here and Halloween is around the corner. Though this year may still be different from Halloweens in the past, it may be tough to get through for those who struggle with drug and/or alcohol addiction or those in recovery.  Temptations can be overwhelming, especially at gatherings where drugs or alcohol are present. There can be situations at parties that can trigger the need to use. In order to make Halloween a positive experience, it’s important to have a plan in place.

Possible Holiday Triggers

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests there are several triggers associated with trauma, such as certain songs, scents and rituals. Holidays, in general, can be stressful with an increased pressure of family obligations. It can also be the opposite, where a person doesn’t have family or friends to spend time with during this time of year. There are triggers everywhere on holidays, big and small, and avoiding them can be difficult. Take time to reflect and figure out what your triggers may be before the holiday begins. Knowing what these triggers are is a big step to staying sober on Halloween or any holiday during recovery.

Tips and Tricks to Staying Sober During Halloween

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), creating a plan can help keep you and/or your loved one safe, maintain sobriety and still have some Halloween fun.

1. Be Accountable

Attend a local drug and/or alcohol support group. These groups are likely to have an increase in meetings during the holiday season. Attending regular meetings in-person or virtually is important for you or your loved one’s recovery and can be especially helpful before and after attending a party. 

Be accountable to yourself as well. Schedule or make plans for the day after a Halloween get together. It can act as a reminder that you have something to do the next day and avoid staying out all night. It is also a way out if anyone asks you to go to another party or stay out later than you planned. 

2. Avoid Past “Haunts”

You might feel the pressure to visit old friends. These friends may still be deep in their addictions. Steer clear. You should avoid family members who may have parties full of alcohol and places that can induce stress or make you feel more comfortable to join in. Try something new and fun rather than revisiting your past.

3. Take a Friend or Family Member With You

Know you are headed to a party or that you may end up at a party? Take a close friend or family member who knows the struggle of your sobriety. If you can’t find someone, invite your sponsor or someone from your group. Find someone to support you as you celebrate this Halloween during recovery.

4. Plan an Escape

No matter how good your plan is, things can always go wrong. Have an escape plan in place in case things get out of line. Take your own car. Be mindful of how you are feeling. Are you finding yourself wanting to give in to the temptation of drugs or alcohol? If you are feeling unable to fight the need to use or feel yourself heading out of control, leave immediately.

5. Supply Your Own Drink

Providing your own drink at Halloween parties during recovery can help you avoid unwanted temptation. Keep it in your hand as much as you can. It can deter someone else from offering you a drink and also prevents something unwanted from ending up in your drink.

6. Practice Your Refusal to Alcohol

How are you going to say no when someone offers you a drink? Have a game plan. You could write out a script and tell it to yourself in the mirror. Practice with a friend and most importantly, know your lines ahead of time.

7. Take Care of Others

Maybe this year, you could try something different. Instead of hitting that party, you could dress up and leave wrapped candy in front of neighbors’ doors—a reverse trick-or-treat. Think of something that would make you feel good about yourself and do it. 

Halloween is a special time of the year but more often than not, alcohol or other substances tend to show up at certain functions. Being able to navigate those situations is important to staying substance-free. If you or a loved one is struggling during this time of year or you have had a relapse, New Hope Ranch is here to help, offering drug and alcohol treatment programs on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.  Contact us today.   

Related Articles from New Hope Ranch: