7 Tips For a Fun Sober Halloween

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Halloween can be tricky to navigate in recovery—especially when it seems like almost everyone uses the occasion as a reason to drink alcohol. And with the end of October closing in, you might be wondering: How can I control my drinking or stay sober on Halloween?

Sticking to your goals can be tough on any holiday, but the good news is that a few key tips can make it easier. Whether you’re heading to a costume party, haunted house, or another spooky event, here are seven ways to make your sober Halloween a success.

1.  Dodge the Alcohol-Focused Halloween Activities

Avoiding alcohol-focused events is a great way to prevent specific triggers on Halloween. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be around people who are drinking at all—but it does mean that you might benefit from dodging certain types of Halloween celebrations. 

parents and child planning jack o lantern
Photo by Daisy Anderson on Pexels

For example, it might be helpful to avoid your local bar crawl if being surrounded by drunk people is triggering for you. As an alternative, you could:

  • Host your own sober Halloween party
  • Take the kids somewhere fun
  • Carve pumpkins with friends and family
  • Have a scary movie marathon 
  • Visit fall-themed destinations, such as pumpkin patches or apple orchards
  • Get into the Halloween spirit with a ghost tour at a historical location

All in all, plan your day how you feel most comfortable. If you’re early in recovery (or just prefer not to be around alcohol), it’s totally OK to celebrate the spooky season in the comfort of your home.

2. Celebrate Earlier in the Day

By making plans earlier in the day, you can avoid the drinking pressure that can come with late-night celebrating. After all, the most excessive alcohol use usually happens after dark—and the later an event goes, the more intoxicated people tend to become. 

With that in mind, consider attending events while the sun is still out. After a few hours, you can head home and finish the night watching movies, cooking a good meal, or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. 

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3. Focus on Your Costume

young woman with a scary expression holding white pumpkin
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

To shift the focus away from alcohol, try spending time putting together a stellar costume. Not only can this keep your mind off drinking, it allows you to dive into the more fun and festive aspects of Halloween.

 If you’re in need of a few ideas, you could:

  • Dress up as a classic monster, like a vampire or zombie
  • Try following an online special effects makeup tutorial
  • Create a costume based on a favorite TV show or movie character

4. Surround Yourself with Supportive Friends

Even if your friends aren’t on the same path as you regarding alcohol use, chances are they still want to support you. Express to your friends that you’re trying to drink less (or stay sober) and that holidays like Halloween can be tough. They may offer to help by planning different activities, refraining from offering you alcohol, and helping you plan an exit strategy if need be.

On a similar note, you can also plan regular check-ins with a friend, loved one, or another support person during the night. This could be as simple as an hourly text to a family member, a call to your sponsor, or an occasional chat with a sober friend.

5. Identify and Watch Out for Triggers

When it comes to a successful sober Halloween, identifying your triggers is key. Because by knowing your triggers, you can predict where they might come up and plan accordingly. 

For example, if loud social settings tend to spike your anxiety, it might be best to steer clear of any Halloween house parties. Instead, you could opt for a smaller event—like a game night or pumpkin-themed potluck—where you’ll be surrounded by closer friends. 

Or maybe you often feel triggered when you’re hungry, tired, or agitated. In that case, you could make sure to get a good night’s sleep, practice self-care, and eat a nourishing meal before you celebrate. 

Finally, don’t feel bad if alcohol triggers you in general, and you need to turn down invites because of it. Do whatever you need to do to stay on track—even if that means avoiding certain people, hanging with your sober friends, or just staying in for the night. 

6. Plan How You’ll Say No

If your Halloween festivities involve being around booze, get a solid plan in place for how you’ll turn down offers to drink. Of course, you aren’t obligated to explain your reasons for not drinking to anyone—but coming prepared can help you keep your stress to a minimum.

two women in halloween costumes during the daytime
Photo by Sergey Platonov on Pexels

With that in mind, here are a few responses to keep in your mental toolbox:

  • “I’m working on staying fit, so I don’t drink anymore.”
  • “I’m the designated driver for the night.”
  • “I’m on prescription medication that I can’t mix with alcohol.”

Read more: Clever Excuses for Not Drinking

7. Experiment with Mocktails

If you’re celebrating Halloween at home, try mixing up a spooky-themed mocktail recipe to share with friends and loved ones.1 Or, if you’re out and about (like at a bar or house party), you can keep a mocktail in-hand to fend off any unwelcome offers of alcohol. 

Wherever you end up for the night, these alcohol-free drinks are great for keeping your hands and taste buds busy during Halloween festivities. 

Strengthen Your Support This Halloween 

Getting through a sober Halloween can be challenging, especially if it’s your first October in recovery. But the good news is that by knowing your triggers and preparing carefully, you can have plenty of fun while sticking to your drinking goals. And if it comes down to it, know that Halloween isn’t mandatory—if you’d rather stay home, watch movies, or opt out entirely, that’s OK too. 

For more support on Halloween and beyond, virtual programs like Ria Health can help. When you sign up, you’ll gain access to recovery coaching, anti-craving prescriptions, and more—all from your smartphone. Get in touch with a team member today, or learn more about how it works.

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Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Minnesota-based freelancer and health advocate who aims to empower others through her work.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
NYC-based content strategist with over 3 years editing and writing in the recovery space. Strong believer in accessible, empathic, and fact-based communication.
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