While it’s not an official holiday, the arrival of Halloween is often considered to be the start of the holiday season, at least in the United States. For people with a history of alcohol misuse, this can be a critical time, as social expectations play a significant role in when and how we drink.1,2,3
It seems that, if there’s an excuse to cut loose, a lot of people will take it. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the holidays also see a predictable spike in relapses for people recovering from alcohol use disorders. This may be exacerbated by seasonal depression or other mood disorders that may come up during these periods.1,3
Emergency rooms also typically see more people admitted for substance use issues during the holidays. Analysis of wastewater also shows a spike in drug use during long weekends and holidays, a pattern that is consistent in most places where this type of analysis is done. Additionally, college students may be particularly at risk from substance misuse during these periods, likely because many younger people are more socially motivated.2,3,4
Given all of this, it’s good to know that there’s no shortage of fun Halloween activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Here are a few things you can try that will keep you on the wagon while still being in the spirit of the season.
1.) Go Trick or Treating
Though you might be a bit too old to go, yourself, you can go with your kids or with a friend or family member and their kids. Watching the joy children get from the time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating is one of the simpler pleasures in life, and it doesn’t require you to be on any substance.
2.) Organize an Alcohol-free Halloween Party
Being the host of the party allows you to set your own ground rules, which makes it easier to stay sober. If you’re currently in recovery, you can invite other people you’ve met in rehab or group sessions. Even people who drink are probably going to be happy to leave their alcohol at home if you invite them. If you want, you can let guests bring alcohol discreetly for their personal consumption.
3.) Bring Your Own Drinks to Other Parties
Speaking of bringing your own drinks, you can do the same when you’re attending another party. Tell the host in advance, and consider bringing a case or two of non-alcoholic drinks for other people to enjoy. You might be surprised how many other people would be glad to have the option.
4.) Bring Out Your Creative Side
Focus your holiday spirit on creative activities that you did or always wanted to do as a kid. Now that you’re older and more experienced, you can probably make a cooler Halloween costume or carve a spookier pumpkin than you ever did as a child. If you cook or bake, you can put a bit of extra effort into making unforgettable Halloween-themed snacks for family, friends, and trick-or-treaters to enjoy.
5.) Spend Halloween Doing What You Like
You are under no obligation to drink or do anything else related to Halloween. Sometimes, it’s good to just use the day as a time to relax a bit with some candy and a horror movie or doing whatever else you feel like doing. You are in control now, and that is a wonderful thing to celebrate.
6.) Consider Celebrating Your Sobriety
Occasions like Halloween are as good a time as any to reflect on the progress you’ve made in becoming sober. Consider attending a local support group, even if you haven’t done so in a while. This will not only help you stay on track with your recovery, but it can also be a time to better contextualize your progress through the years.
Find Help For Substance Use Disorder Today
Substance misuse often manifests itself during holidays like Halloween.1,2,3,4 If you think that you or someone you know has problems with drugs or alcohol, our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers is ready to help. If you’re in the North Texas region, you can call +1(214) 935-2287 to find personalized treatment and rehabilitation options in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020, December).The Truth About Holiday Spirits.
- Neighbors, C., Atkins, D. C., Lewis, M. A., Lee, C. M., Kaysen, D., Mittmann, A., … & Rodriguez, L. M. (2011). Event-specific drinking among college students. Psychology of addictive behaviors, 25(4), 702.
- Alhabash, S., Kanver, D., Lou, C., Smith, S. W., & Tan, P. N. (2020). Trick or drink: Offline and social media hierarchical normative influences on Halloween celebration drinking. Health communication, 1-7.
- Lai, F. Y., Bruno, R., Hall, W., Gartner, C., Ort, C., Kirkbride, P., … & Mueller, J. F. (2013). Profiles of illicit drug use during annual key holiday and control periods in Australia: wastewater analysis in an urban, a semi‐rural and a vacation area. Addiction, 108(3), 556-565.