It can be easy to think of Halloween as a “kid’s holiday”. For many adults, however, it’s also a glaring reminder that our child-like impulses can continue well into adulthood, and often with much higher stakes. When we’re kids, Halloween is all about sugar, trick-or-treating, cool costumes and parties; as we get older, the parties take a much different form and candy is often replaced by other addictive substances. Instead of trick-or-treating, we often find ourselves trick-or-RE-treating to that same desire for instant gratification, no matter what the cost. Add a global pandemic into this year’s mix, and the desire to cut loose, or relapse, gets even stronger.
As Halloween has become more and more synonymous with alcohol and drug use among young adults, particularly in a year in which many have been cooped up and starved for social interaction and tension relief, here are some ways to keep Halloween fun, safe and sober, and to keep it from becoming the wrong kind of scary.
Get into Getting Scared
Contrary to what we may have experienced in our own lives, substance use doesn’t have to go hand in hand with being scared out of your mind. Plan something legitimately terrifying that doesn’t involve alcohol, like a grown-up haunted-house experience or a movie night where you watch movies that are so scary you can only take them once a year. If anything, alcohol drugs will only dull this experience. As scary as substance abuse can be, there are far better ways to boost your adrenaline.
No Thanks…I Like My Wits Where They Are…Where Are the Snacks?
If getting scared isn’t your thing, celebrate the way so many others do: with food! Halloween isn’t only about stuffing yourself on candy, it’s also an opportunity to have some frighteningly decadent recipes that you try to avoid the rest of the year: think pizza, nachos, wings, desserts or any of the other foods that make us so happy when we eat them. You can even put your own scary spin on the presentation to mark the occult occasion.
Scary Soundtracks and Spooky Stories
Set the mood for the night by creating the perfect Halloween playlist of your terrifying tastes. Your playlist can include something as on-the-nose as Monster Mash or something less expected like scary instrumental music. If you’re having people over, for a safe and socially distanced party, schedule some time where you take turns telling scary stories. Remember scary is a relative term to some people, so give your more passive and extreme friends a little latitude.
Horror Sequels are Overrated: Avoiding Relapse and Staying Sober on Halloween
If you’re in recovery, it can be easier than you may realize to let Halloween be the springboard to relapse; but there are plenty of things you can do to insulate yourself from a set-back:
- Spend Halloween with Sober and Supportive People
- Skip Parties Where You Know Where Drug Use Will Occur
- Set Check-In Times with Your Support Staff when You’re at a Party
- Have An Exit Plan for Social Gatherings
- Know Your Triggers and Avoid Them
- Try Throwing Your Own Party Where You Can Control Things
- Have A Script in Place for those Who Insist you Drink
It’s also helpful to bring your own car wherever you go and keep your therapist or mental health professional available if you’re feeling vulnerable. Planning ahead, exercising self-awareness and giving yourself a break, can protect you from relapse. Remember, if you slip, it’s not the end of the world or your recovery. Make plans to get back into treatment and reembark on your recovery. Recovery Unplugged wishes everyone a safe, healthy and sober Halloween! Feel free to tell us how you Halloween sober this year!