Updated on 09/18/23

Halloween can be scary for many reasons – and it’s not just the ghouls and goblins. It can be a very triggering holiday for many people in recovery. Halloween parties and alcohol abuse often go hand-in-hand, so even though October has just begun, it’s important to start planning how you are going to handle the upcoming holiday.

Prepare for Halloween Parties and Avoid Alcohol Use

The most important thing you need to do in order to have a successful Halloween in recovery is prepare yourself. This means not only preparing for possible triggers but many other things as well. Some things you should plan for ahead of time are:

  • An exit strategy. If you’re feeling uncomfortable at a Halloween party and don’t necessarily want everyone to know that you’re in recovery, have an exit strategy in place. This can mean pretending like you have other plans later or telling the host that you aren’t feeling well. Make sure you’re not the designated driver for your friends. You need to be able to leave the party whenever you are ready and not feel stuck or responsible for others.
  • Your own food and drinks. Many people bring their own alcohol or food to parties, so bring your own drinks as well. Bottle up your favorite lemonade or soda in a reusable bottle and give yourself a delicious option without counting on the host to have non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Triggering situations. Be prepared that you may need to call it an early night. Don’t be disappointed if you feel like you need to remove yourself from a triggering situation. You did your best and are keeping your recovery a priority.

Lean on Your Support System

The most important thing you can do during any difficult time, especially around the holidays, is to lean on your support. This can mean bringing a sober companion with you to a Halloween party, texting someone throughout the night about how you’re feeling or even choosing to spend the holiday with your sober support instead.

Attend a Meeting Instead

You may be coming to the realization that Halloween might be too overwhelming or triggering for you, and that’s okay too. Instead of celebrating Halloween because you feel like you have to, attend a meeting instead. Skipping Halloween this year is absolutely an option, and chances are, there will be many others at the meeting who feel the same.

Other Great Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Since Halloween parties and alcohol abuse go hand-in-hand, you may decide that you’re not ready to attend one yet. There are tons of other fun ways to celebrate Halloween without putting yourself in a triggering situation.

Have a Night In

One of the best parts about Halloween is passing out candy and seeing the delight on all the children’s faces. Instead of going out, make it a night in and invite some of your support system over. Some fun things to do while passing out candy are:

  • Watch scary movies
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Bake Halloween treats or fall-inspired dishes
  • Play games
  • Decorate your porch

Start a New Tradition

In years past, you may have enjoyed dressing up and partying at Halloween parties. Now that you’re in recovery and your priorities have shifted, it might be time to start a new Halloween tradition. This can mean going all out with decorating your house, hosting your own Halloween party or even going out of town.

Check Out Local Haunted Houses

Chances are, there are tons of things to do in your area for Halloween. Whether it’s a local haunted house, corn maze, pumpkin patch, haunted hayride or a neighborhood that goes all out with their decorations, there is always something fun and interesting to see on Halloween night. Instead of going to a party or feeling the pressure of hosting one of your own, spend Halloween enjoying everyone else’s work instead.


Check local organizations, non-profits or community organizers in your area to see if there’s any way you can help others have an enjoyable Halloween. Volunteering with children, the elderly, at the fire station, at hospitals or even just at a community center will make you have not only a sober Halloween, but a productive one as well that will make you feel great.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Although Halloween and alcohol abuse are closely tied together, there are many ways to enjoy Halloween without having to drink alcohol. You can still attend parties if you prepare well enough ahead, you can host your own Halloween celebration or you can even just skip it altogether this year. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable is the most important thing. At Pinelands Recovery Center we are here to support you. If you believe you or a someone close to you needs may need treatment for their alcohol use, contact us today.

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