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Posted by on in Alcoholism

As a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, Halloween was often like the “Superbowl” for my addiction. What better excuse to dress up like a fool, crash college parties, and slurp down orange jello shots all night? Halloween, on a college campus, is a well-known night for wild partying and is even expected in some places. While for a non-alcoholic, this may be acceptable for a young adult, my love for Halloween went beyond candy, costumes, and alcohol; crossing the line from wild fun into a desperate attempt to escape my own dark reality.

My “First” Halloween Drunk

I had a difficult time, as an introverted only child, making friends and socializing at parties. This became a real issue in middle school, where cliques begin to form and the “pecking order” of popularity emerges. I was unsuccessful in any social endeavors, until of course I discovered the wonders of alcohol. My first “real drunk” came on my first big invitation to a party. A party at the house of a Senior, and I was only a sophomore. My newfound friends quickly introduced me to the effectiveness of alcohol in reducing anxiety and as a social lubricant. I immediately felt close to those around me, I started talking to the pretty girls, I won my first game of ‘beer pong’. However that night, like most of my drinking episodes, ended up with me puking on the hood of someones car, passing out in some bushes, and waking up with ant bites covering my body and a throbbing headache. The insanity started immediately in my head, “Man what a blast! When is the next party? Alcohol is the solution to all my problems!”

The Allure of Halloween to the Alcoholic

In the following years of my growing alcoholism I enjoyed any excuse to drink like a madman; St. Paddy’s Day, Independence Day, my Birthday, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Ever, etc. However Halloween remained my favorite, and in college if Halloween fell on a Sunday or Monday the parties and costumes started happening Thursday. So what made this holiday so much more different from all the rest? For me, it was the thrill of escaping my reality, if only, for a weekend. I LOVED wearing mask or heavy makeup and transfiguring myself into an anonymous party goer. I could blackout and punch holes in peoples drywall and get away with it! The next day people would be whispering, “Did you see the guy dressed as Darth Vader walking around knocking over pictures and puking in the punch bowl?”, but I didn’t have to worry about getting found out. Halloween was my excuse to be on my worst behavior, without fear of what others thought of me.

Girls get to dress in their most “revealing” outfits in the name of good Halloween cheer without being called out for promiscuity or bad taste. Skinny guys can dress up as Superman or a Spartan  Warrior and play the masculine hero for a few nights. With the general atmosphere of mischief and mystery embedded in the roots of Halloween, mixed with large amounts of alcohol, it is clear why it was my favorite time of the year to get fall-down-drunk.

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Escapism and Alcoholism

My experiences may seem unique, but the feelings and emotions described are quite common among alcoholics. Fear, shame, and guilt are some of the biggest challenges alcoholics face when getting sober. They are embarrassed of all the drunken antics they caused, or the reputation they bruised and dented while drinking. Many people describe it as the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” effect; when we are sober are morals are average and self-control normal, but when drinking we become completely different, with our most vitriolic defects often coming out.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Holiday parties without liquid spirits may still seem like a dreary prospect to people newly sober. However, many of us have enjoyed the happiest holidays of our lives sober, an idea we previously thought impossible. Here are some tips for having an all-around ball without a single drop of alcohol.

 

  1. Line up extra recovery activities for the holiday season. Most 12 step, religious, and recovery organizations have a bounty of holiday events just for this purpose.
  2. Be host to sober friends, especially people newly sober. If you don’t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take a friend out for coffee or dinner.
  3. Keep a phone list nearby of recovery resources; sober friends, help hotlines, treatment centers, sponsors etc. If a drinking urge or panic comes, stop everything and make a call, it could save your life.
  4. Find out about holiday parties and celebrations in your area that do not involve alcohol and drugs. There are plenty of ‘family friendly’ events in every town that do not require alcohol to enjoy.
  5. Skip any drinking occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as staying sober.
  6. If you have to go to a drinking party, try to take a sober friend with you or keep your recovery phone number nearby.
  7. If you start feeling tempted at a party or by others drinking, do not be afraid to leave early. Plan in advance an ‘important date’ you have to keep.
  8. Worship in your own way. The holidays are a time of spirituality. Expand your spirituality, however that looks to you.
  9. Don’t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, exercise, hobbies, and other self-care activities.
  10. Don’t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember, “one day at a time.”
  11. Enjoy the true beauty of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but you can always give love.
  12. If you have a healthy relationship with your family, try and spend some quality time together. If you are not on good terms with family, the holidays are a great time for forgiveness and repairing relationships.

Format and basic ideas borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous Winter 2012 Newsletter.

 

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