Elizabeth Rosselle is a guest author. She is a journalist and copywriter with over a decade of experience in the industry.
For many people, the thought of St. Patrick’s Day conjures up images of green beer, rowdy gatherings and overindulgence. While the holiday did not originate as an alcohol-focused celebration, it’s become difficult to ignore the culture of drinking that now goes hand in hand with this day.
For those who struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and are committed to staying sober, St. Patrick’s Day can be full of triggers and opportunities to relapse.
For those who plan on foregoing the alcohol this March 17th, here are five ways to help you maintain your recovery in the midst of mass celebrations:
- Plan A Sober St. Patrick’s Day Party
- Go To A St. Patrick’s Day Parade With Friends In Your Recovery Network
- Stay In And Watch Movies With A Sober Friend Or Two
- Go Out For A Delicious Dinner With Friends
- Call Someone In Your Recovery Network
- Plan A Sober St. Patrick’s Day Party
Sober parties are always a fun idea on holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, and this is a great time to really get creative with the green theme. You can make up fun party rules, for example, have guests spend the entire evening in ridiculous green “St. Paddy’s Walk of Shame” hats if they forget to wear green.
Participating in one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions–wearing green–can help you to feel a part of the celebrations, even if you’re not drinking. And, of course, have fun with the snack, beverage and soundtrack selection by playing Irish folk music while serving green cookies, virgin mojitos or virgin mint juleps.
Go To A St. Patrick’s Day Parade With Friends In Your Recovery Network
Many big cities host St. Patrick’s Day parades, and most of the time, they’re pretty family-friendly events that aren’t solely about drinking. St. Patrick’s Day parades are a fun way to get festive and perhaps even toss on some green glitter and face paint. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the day outdoors with a group of sober friends while enjoying corned beef and cabbage, waving green flags and celebrating a fun holiday.
This is also a great opportunity to spend time with your recovery circle or sober network. Having each other nearby as support and accountability partners reduces the temptation to drink. A good way to prepare for challenging situations during the event is to brainstorm ideas with your recovery circle, such as carrying a green thermos of water or soda so other event-goers don’t offer you drinks.
If temptation does arise, a list of mental reminders of why you are sober in the first place and how far you’ve come in recovery can help you to stay committed to your recovery. If a situation becomes too much to safely handle, remember to have a set plan with your recovery circle for how to leave the situation and where to go to continue the sober festivities elsewhere.
The best part? When others are nursing their behemoth hangovers on March 18th, you’ll be enjoying a clear-headed day and perhaps a tasty reuben with some of that leftover corned beef and cabbage.
Stay In And Watch Movies With A Sober Friend Or Two
Sometimes staying in on St. Paddy’s Day can be the best plan, particularly if it is still early in your recovery. Of course, the ultimate goal is to feel comfortable in most situations without experiencing the temptation to pick up a drink, but testing this theory in the early days isn’t worth it.
More than likely, you have others in your recovery network who feel the same way, so why not spend a sober night in with some action flicks or a few comedies? Make some popcorn and order a pizza to serve with the movies, or get really Irish and bake a Shepherd’s pie if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
Go Out For A Delicious Dinner With Friends
Early in the 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day was established as an official Christian feast day, so it’s actually the perfect excuse to hit up a fun restaurant in town, eat well and enjoy the company of close friends. You can gather friends that are in your recovery network, or at least choose dining partners who aren’t into heavy drinking.
Food and good friends go hand-in-hand, and it gets you and your buddies out mingling but without all of the heavy drinking that typically goes along with St. Paddy’s Day.
Call Someone In Your Recovery Network
For those who don’t make any plans on St. Paddy’s Day and choose to stay home, that’s perfectly ok as well. St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to involve anything more than a night in with a good book, but be careful not to let yourself slip into self-pity or isolation mode.
If you begin to feel sad, lonely or isolated, don’t let this feeling settle in for too long. Unchecked negative emotions could place you at risk of reaching for the bottle. Instead, pick up that 100-pound phone of yours, call someone in your recovery network and share what’s going on. Very likely, they’ll understand and be able to relate. Connection is a powerful tool in recovery, and it’s important that we utilize it when loneliness, isolation and unhealthy thoughts start to creep in.
Taking advantage of a remote alcohol testing device like Soberlink can help provide an extra layer of accountability if you or a loved one is struggling to maintain sobriety. It also gives you a great way to document your sobriety, and it allows you to easily connect with others in your recovery network while encouraging one another to stay sober. There will always be holidays and temptations around, even after giving up alcohol, but one of the most important things to remember is that you never have to do this alone.