Now that summertime has ended and the fall months have begun, October rolls in. It often feels ruled by an anticipation of Halloween and its festivities. For those in recovery, this season (and holiday seasons in general) can be a source of anxiety because of Halloween’s association with parties, alcohol, and late-night activities.
But by planning ahead and being aware of the societal pressure exerted by social media, you can stay sober this Halloween, make new connections, and even manage to have a blast.
The Dangers of Halloween Drinking
A recent study has shown that Halloween drinking is significantly impacted by what seem like “normal” activities posted on social media outlets on the October 31st holiday. This includes alcohol and substance abuse, as well as raucous parties and staying out late. Although the study only examined 18-20 year old individuals, the implications are the same for older age groups.
For those in the workplace, this societal pressure doesn’t have to come from social media but conversations at work and even work-sponsored parties. Those in recovery may already be familiar with these pressures but should still take precautions even though it may feel the “same old.”
Making a plan and sticking to it are the best ways to stay sober this October. And one of the easiest ways to follow through with your recovery plan is to make sure it’s fun and festive.
Activities to Do Outside
Depending on where you live and what fall weather allows for, outside activities in October can be a great way to enjoy the changing air, leaves, and season.
- Go to a pumpkin patch: Picking pumpkins can be a great sober activity to enjoy throughout month of October. Bring friends, kids, or a partner and make a day of it. Between choosing your pumpkin, coming home to carve it, and roasting the pumpkin seeds, you have spent a full October day enjoying the festivities sober and safe.
- Enjoy a nature hike: October is usually a beautiful time for seeing the leaves change colors and taking in the crisp air. This is an activity you can do on your own or with a group to help you connect, reset, and destress.
- Schedule a game-day with neighbors and friends: Everyone loves the person who schedules a day of frisbee, soccer, touch football, or softball. Enjoying the weather, physical activity, and endorphins can lift your mood and give you energy you didn’t know you had.
- Visit a haunted house or autumn festival: Another way to spend an evening is to visit a local haunted house, fall festival, or even an escape room to get your adrenaline going. It’s always more fun to get spooked with friends so round up a few close buddies and get your blood pumping—in a good way.
Inside Activities to Do at Home
Staying inside can expand the range of possibilities for an evening of festive fun. Scheduling something on a weeknight can also lower the pressure for you and your guests since many people may only be able to commit an hour or two on an evening where they have work or family responsibilities.
- Feast on the flavors of autumn: While many will be obsessing over pumpkin spice lattes, there are plenty more festive treats to keep you busy this October. From sweet candy corn to savory squashes and soups, your Halloween-esque table can be balanced, tasty, and satisfying. And of course, if you’re really into it, there’s always eyeball donut holes and hot dog mummies.
- Enjoy a Halloween-themed “mocktail:” Getting creative with alcohol-free concoctions can be fun, especially with names like “witches brew,” “frankenpunch,” and “ghostly tonic.” Or dig for the family recipe of your grandmother’s famous spiced apple cider—sometimes classic is best.
- Begin a reflection or gratitude journal: As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, it’s always a good decision to schedule in a practice of appreciation and self-reflection. Since Halloween leads right into November and soon Thanksgiving, it’s never too early to begin tapping into that sense of thankfulness. Acts of self-care are central in this season.
- Host a spooky-movie night: If you like horror or suspense movies, host a movie night with a few friends where each of you choose a scary movie. With cups of cider and take out or pizza, take the evening to bond over a shared adrenaline rush. Halloween movie classics can take many forms—enjoy the range of classic horror, eerie cinematic suspense, and laughable teenage drama. Whatever it is, these films are best viewed with friends and with more than enough treats to go around.
- Organize a costume-making evening: Everyone needs a good excuse to get together to share their costume ideas and perfect their designs. A costume-making event is a great way to celebrate the festivities of Halloween without the usual associations of overly-late-nights and substance consumption. By emphasizing individual and group creativity, you can host a place for friends or coworkers to get together without the stress of a formal party and all that comes with it.
- Invent a new Halloween tradition: There’s always room for creative innovation in a new season and Halloween is no exception to this rule. October game-night, karaoke, bake-a-thon, or a get-together with your recovery group can all be new additions to your Halloween month traditions. You may find that others are looking for an a healthy alternative to the typical Halloween party routine, too—why not be the one to start it up?
Despite the risks associated with drinking and substance abuse and Halloween, there are ample resources for anyone in recovery to suggest an alternate way of enjoying the festivities. Sober October may be exactly what your friends and family are waiting for, so why wait?