Celebrating holidays while sober is challenging, many holidays involve parties with heavy drinking, and Halloween is one of the top drinking holidays. Throw in the anxieties created by the pandemic, and it will make this Halloween a little more scary than usual. If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, then Halloween can provide many triggers and haunt you with your past. However, Halloween can be celebrated without alcohol or drugs, and enjoying time with family and friends can ease anxiety and depression. The team at Aspire Counseling Services offers a few ideas to help you celebrate All Hallow’s Eve safe and sober.

Start first with your support group. Find out if they are planning any type of events. This offers a comforting safe place in the company of people facing the same challenges as you. Many support groups plan sober holiday events that can include some fun activities including games, sports, and music.

Just because you are sober doesn’t limit you to water and soda. Try making some fun mocktails to enjoy. If you do decide to go to a party where alcohol will be served, this will help you to avoid any questions regarding why you are not drinking alcohol. Of course, you can always politely say, “I don’t drink.” But, if you are not ready for invasive follow-up questions, you can try some other evasive tactics such as mocktails, stating you are designated driver, or just saying you aren’t in the mood.

It is important to remember that much more than drinking and drugs occurs at holiday parties. The purpose is fun time with friends and family. Try hosting your own sober party and inviting people to come play games. Decorate to get in the festive mood. You can do some theme games, such as charades with horror movie titles, or place a paper on each guests’ back with a Halloween character that they must figure out with clues from other guests. Try a murder mystery game or have guests act out scenes from scary movies. Put some thought into a few ideas to get things going, but know that guests socializing is the main reason they are there.

If you have children in your life, Halloween can still be fun despite the pandemic. Trick or treating may not occur in your area depending on pandemic regulations, but you can plan some fun activities at home for the kids. Turn to Google for an unlimited number of games and activities you can do with children for the holidays. Get them involved in the decorating, they will love it. For those with mental health issues, or substance use disorders, time with children can be the biggest stress reliever. Enjoying the holidays with children may be something your addiction previously impacted, so enjoy it now.

If your community is still social distancing and limiting gatherings, try setting up some activities that everyone can participate separately. Hold a virtual pumpkin carving contest allowing everyone to participate through video chat with a set time limit. Try a virtual Monster Mash dance contest. Play horror movie trivia online, they can even act out scenes. If you want to interact a little more directly, you can plan a photo scavenger hunt, where you take pictures around town of a variety of Halloween decorations and each small group travels around town trying to locate where the photos were taken. Everyone can communicate through group videos and chats and remain distanced. This is a great way to inspire no drinking as they shouldn’t drink and drive or have open containers in cars.

Staying sober and having a safe, fun Halloween can happen if you approach the holiday with a plan. All holidays in recovery will require a plan to overcome the temptations and cravings you are bound to face. Communicate with your support group at Aspire Counseling Services and prepare yourself for the occasional challenges you will face.  Achieving sobriety is a journey, but you are not taking that journey alone. Aspire Counseling Services will provide the tools you need to overcome your addiction and lead a healthy, happy life. Have a safe, fun, and healthy Halloween!

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