How to have a happy and healthy Halloween in recovery

Holidays can be a really difficult time for people in recovery. For some people, that includes Halloween.

People who were separated from kids or have challenging family setups may find it hard to get through family-oriented holidays like Halloween. For others, a day known for partying can bring up past memories of using drugs.

If Halloween is an especially triggering time for you, you’re not alone. You can get through this. Here are four things to do and consider to make the day easier to manage.

1. Avoid your triggers.

Triggers are the people, places, things, and feelings that make you think about using or want to use. During the cold-weather holidays, Halloween included for some, there can be a lot of distressing memories. Knowing your triggers can help you do what you can to avoid and manage them.

Possible triggers include:

  • Loneliness
  • Excitement
  • Feeling stressed
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Feeling rejected
  • Certain friends, family members, or a significant other
  • Strangers
  • Bars and clubs
  • Friends’ houses
  • Towns, freeway exits, and parks
  • Halloween parties
  • Seeing kids trick-or-treating
  • When you’re alone
  • When you’re going to sleep
  • When you’re around alcohol
  • When you’re around drugs

Is there a particular group of friends or location that reminds you of when you were using? Even if seeing those people or that place sounds fun for Halloween, it might not be good for your recovery. If you know you often feel triggered when going to sleep after holiday hangs, make sure you have time to use coping tools before bed.

A good coping strategy for the holidays is putting together and using a self-soothe box. A self-soothe box is a small collection of comforting things. Fill a shoebox or folder with things that help you relax, have good thoughts, and stay focused on recovery. Try to include items you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

2. Spend time outdoors.

In many places around the country, the fall is a beautiful time to go outdoors. Having a campfire and telling scary stories with trusted friends is very Halloween-y way to enjoy the crisp fall air. Going for a hike can be a nice and relaxing way to experience the healing power of nature.

However you choose to spend time outside, it can help you stay grounded and peaceful.

3. Have supportive people on speed dial.

No matter what time of year it is, having a list of friends, family, or Groups members to reach out to when things get tough is important.

You can even plan your Halloween around your support system. Invite trusted loved ones over for the spookiest pastimes of all: a scary movie night or pumpkin-carving party.

There may even be special Halloween events around you for people in recovery. Ask Groups members or your group’s Recovery Counselor for ideas.

4. Know you can always reach out to Groups.

Whether you’re a current or past Groups member, our Recovery Support Specialists are there for you 24/7, even on holidays. Call us anytime for support or just to chat. You always have us in your corner.

New to Groups? Learn about what we offer and how we can help people with opioid use disorder through and beyond the holidays.