With Halloween just around the corner, it’s worth a reminder that this is one time of year when a little caution and some common sense ahead of time can avoid a potential tragedy come Trick or Treat day.
Statistically speaking, depending on what city and state you live in, Halloween is the one observed holiday where more people drink and drive than any other. Halloween, in fact, trumps all other days of the year for DWI arrests, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve and even St. Patrick’s Day.
All the more reason to be concerned if you have a loved one or family member who likes to dress up in costume and either host a blow-out Trick or Treat party for the grown-ups or heads out to tie one on at any number of house parties or bars and taverns.
Sometimes, you just have to exert a little control over the situation and take matters into your own hands. Here are some tips on how to keep it alcohol-free this Halloween and just possibly save your loved one, and you and the family, from a tragedy.
Arrange a Party Sans Alcohol
The best way to know for sure that there’s no alcohol around is to host a Halloween party yourself. If you have a loved one in recovery who may be having a hard time at certain times of the year when cravings and urges rear up and threaten sobriety, making sure that the opportunity and access to alcohol isn’t freely available is a pretty sound choice. If you can get your spouse or partner or loved one involved in the party preparations and decorations and make it a fun activity you’re both looking forward to, there may be less anxiety and trepidation about a Halloween party with no alcohol being served.
If you believe that your loved one won’t go along with the program, insisting that there be alcohol served, enlist the support of other family members and close friends to help convince your loved one that you really don’t need to serve alcohol for everyone to have a good time.
Another wise choice is to participate in a Halloween party that your loved one’s home 12-Step group may be sponsoring. With everyone in attendance committed to their sobriety, the fact that it’s alcohol-free won’t be a problem.
Trick or Treating With the Kids
Maybe there isn’t a specific party for adults planned for this Halloween. That still doesn’t let you out of the woods if you know your loved one generally frequents a particular haunt during the observation of the day. Maybe he or she hasn’t been there lately, but has definitely hung out there in the past. Well, old memories die hard and it only takes one to cause those stirrings to go out and party down.
One way to help prevent this is to get your loved one involved with you in trick or treating with the kids. If you don’t have children of your own, why not offer to accompany another family member’s children or a neighbor who may not be able to do the trick or treating duties and still hand out candy at the door? The point is to become involved in an activity that offers no opportunity for your loved one to drink alcohol.
Helping your kids to dress up in costume, applying makeup and arranging for the accessories, flashlights, and bags or containers to hold the candy they’ll collect during their outing will also add a different element to the evening.
Take photos or video the process and, to keep things really fun, dress up you and your loved one. Make it a real family activity.
Volunteer at a Senior Center
Think of the people who have no one to cheer them up or spend time with them during various holidays. While we automatically think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as those kinds of days when seniors living in senior centers or assisted living homes, Halloween falls right in there as well.
You could suggest that you and your loved one visit someone you know in one of those homes or get involved in arranging a party for the elderly residents by talking with the administrators.
Once again, the idea is to get involved in an activity that takes up time, gets the person outside of himself or herself, and where there’s no opportunity or access to alcohol.
Talk With Your Loved One’s Close Friend
Who is the most influential friend that your loved one has? If you know this person and feel comfortable talking to him or her, having a conversation with that person about doing something far removed from drinking this Halloween might be a good idea.
Maybe this individual is another 12-Step member. If so, all the better – but only if you know the person and get together socially. The idea here is that your loved one’s friend may be the one person that can get through and that your loved one will listen to.
You could also encourage your loved one to talk with his or her sponsor about safe and healthy ways to observe Halloween and how to deal with persistent cravings and urges that may pop up out of nowhere.
Be Supportive and Be Present
No, you can’t stop someone from drinking if they’re absolutely adamant that they’re going to. In this regard, it doesn’t matter if your loved one has been clean and sober for many months or is newly sober and just beginning recovery. What you can do, and what you should commit yourself to doing, is to be supportive and be present for your loved one as he or she works the recovery program.
Some days will be easier than others. Sometimes you will encounter resistance as your loved one struggles to find footing in the principles of recovery. There may be relapses along the way, as many newcomers to recovery frequently experience. That is not failure. It is actually part of the learning process. As long as you remain steadfast, ready to help with your support and encouragement, your loved one will have a better chance at maintaining sobriety.