For many of us, celebrating the holidays is a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with our family, peers, and community. It helps us feel more connected to one another as it provides a venue to engage in intimate conversations with our loved ones and bond through celebrating particular holiday customs that have been handed down from generation to generation. Holiday celebrations nurture our souls, thereby creating positive memories that we may carry with us for a long time. Holidays and social gatherings go hand in hand – it is customary for many individuals to celebrate some sort of tradition, cultural event, or religious occasion with family or peers.
Holidays can be difficult for individuals who are newly sober; usually there is some form of social gathering which often includes alcohol consumption and perhaps even drug consumption. While these gatherings can bring much joy to the recovering individual, it also places the individual in a high-risk situation for relapse.
For individuals new in recovery there are some tricks that may assist in maintaining sobriety this Halloween. Loneliness, isolation, and boredom can be major triggers for newly recovering individuals; therefore, it may not be a good idea to completely avoid this holiday by isolating at home. It is vital for individuals recovering from the disease of addiction to attend 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. These spiritual fellowships have helped millions of those who have recovered maintain sobriety while enjoying holidays, anniversaries, and weddings - all events during which some attendees may partake in alcohol or drugs.
Many clubhouses that facilitate 12-step meetings usually host sober Halloween gatherings that include costume parties or dances, pumpkin carving, or many more Halloween-related festivities. Celebrating with other recovering individuals will greatly decrease one’s chance of relapse and allow the individual to make their own Halloween traditions with sober support. It is strongly recommended that one avoid high-risk situations (social gatherings that include alcohol or drug consumption) during one’s first year of recovery. These gatherings include many temptations which could trigger an individual to relapse. However, if the individual strongly desires to attend a Halloween gathering where alcohol may be consumed, it is imperative the individual bring strong sober support, including sober friends who have a strong recovery foundation and can keep the individual accountable.
Despite this safeguard, it is equally important to have a plan for turning down alcohol or drugs, as there is a strong possibility that somebody at the party will ask why you’re not drinking or using. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to tell this person they are in recovery or come up with a simple explanation, such as, “I just don’t drink or use…” If for any reason the individual feels triggered, even with the presence of sober support, it is important that they leave the gathering immediately, call their sponsor to process their thoughts and feelings, and attend a 12-step meeting to share about it.
If an individual decides to spend time with family during Halloween, it is important to set strong boundaries with family members during the first year of recovery. Prior to attending the gathering, let family members know they should not drink or use in front of you. If these boundaries cannot be honored it is recommended you not attend the family gathering.
Many individuals who are new in recovery fear that they cannot have fun without alcohol or drugs at social gatherings. If you are new in recovery, please understand that you can actually have more fun during the holidays sober than you did when you were under the influence, as you are now in control of your behaviors and are living a spiritual life that attracts positivity to every facet of your existence. Not to mention, you will actually remember these good times and cherish them for the rest of your life. Know your triggers, stay around strong sober support, and plan ahead to ensure that you will have plenty of amazing and spooky sober fun this Halloween.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or visit