Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
4 Tips For Staying Clean And Sober This Halloween
We all remember dressing up for Halloween and knocking on our neighbor’s doors. It was a magical time of exhilaration, spooks, tricks and treats. Our level of excitement was high as we gobbled sweets and filled our bags.
However, as we grew older we quit knocking on doors. Instead trading in our Halloween taffy for alcoholic treats and costume parties.
Now, October 31st is upon us. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been clean and sober, special occasions can still trigger cravings.
If you’re newly sober, everything triggers cravings. If this is your first Halloween without alcohol and drugs, you can expect to feel overwhelmed, sad and maybe even a little envious of your friends who still use. It seems like the whole world is gearing up to party. You might fall into the ‘poor me’ trap- the one that says your days of fun are over. As your old friend’s rev up for an exciting night of fright, mayhem and party, you just want to crawl into bed and avoid the whole thing.
Staying clean and sober on Halloween can be harder than maintaining your sobriety on a daily basis because it seems like everyone else is drinking- but that’s not true.
23 million North Americans will remain abstinent tonight and will have a good time doing it. No one would ever stay clean and sober if it was dull and boring. Recovery is a lot of fun. But in order to have fun, you need to do things differently. So how can you protect yourself this Halloween and still enjoy it? Here are 4 ideas that can help you.
- Avoid adult Halloween parties. You’ve been dressing up and going to Halloween pub crawls for years. You’re usually the first guy there and the last one to leave. You’re tight with your using friends. You’ve known them forever, but they’re not safe for you to hang out with anymore. Keep in mind, you’ve changed and they haven’t. Watching people get wasted and over-indulging is not a good idea when newly clean and sober. Your chances of staying abstinent in your old using haunts are slim. Instead of another pub crawl, avoid relapse by trying something different this year. Which brings us to number 2.
- Hang out with your newly clean and sober friends. Dress up and hit a meeting. There, you’ll meet sober monsters and dry vampires. The hilarity in the rooms can be intoxicating. Although you’ve only known your new friends a short while, they are just like you. They’ve exited the gates of hell and escaped the flames. They know how you feel and where you’ve been. They’ve walked in your shoes and there isn’t anything you can’t tell them. Guys and gals in recovery know how to have fun. Even better, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning with a grin on your face. You’ll feel fantastic and you’ll remember it all.
- Start a new tradition. Carve a pumpkin with your sobriety date on it. Put a candle inside and watch what happens after dark. The candle will illuminate your new beginning just as your recovery breathes life into the new you. Now is your opportunity to give back. Giving back increases your sense of community and makes you feel good. Call your family. Make a big deal over the kids in your life. Go trick-or-treating with them. If you don’t have any kids to hang out with you can still get into the Halloween spirit by giving out candy at your door. Doing something for someone else this year will get you out of your head and increase your sense of well-being.
- Play the tape all the way through. You might not remember why you started using drugs or alcohol, but never forget why you quit. You may feel strong urges to use, remembering how much fun you had on past Halloween nights, but don’t stop there. Play the tape ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Yes, that first drink, pill, snort or shot will feel good. But what happens after that? MORE. If you could be a social user, you would be. But your days of using socially are long gone. If you pick up now, you pick up where you left off and it gets worse from there. That’s if you’re lucky. Many who relapse never make it back.
My biggest fear in early recovery was that I would never have fun again. I was so sure my life would be dull and boring, but that wasn’t the case. I found out how wrong I was in rehab. It was there that I had my first true belly laugh. It was the kind of laughter I hadn’t experienced since childhood. It brought tears to my eyes and said simply… I love being alive! Sobriety brought hope into my life.
Recovery promotes joy, peace and contentment. Best of all, it gives you the very thing you sought to find in drugs and alcohol- freedom. And it only gets better with time.
Halloween night will pass. Cravings end. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re having a difficult time let your friends and family know about it. Go to a meeting. Share your thoughts and feelings with your support group, or give Vertava Health a call. They can help you through this difficult transition.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.