St. Patrick’s Day is a big occasion for many, and if you’re accustomed to going out and painting the town green with as much alcohol as you can swallow, you’re certainly not alone. Unfortunately, the holiday becomes dramatically different once you’re sober. Many people in recovery feel left out, alone, and experience strong cravings on days like St. Patrick’s, where they would traditionally go out, have fun, and drink a great deal.
If you’re concerned you won’t be able to maintain your sobriety over St. Patrick’s, you’re not alone. However, there are a lot of things to keep in mind that will help you to stay sober and possibly have fun while you’re doing it. These 7 tips will help you not only make it through St. Patrick’s, but also enjoy your day sober.
1. Remember the Bad Times
One of the biggest risks of recovering from a substance use disorder is glamorizing when you were using. If you’re looking at St. Patrick’s and remembering all the fun you had, you’re probably looking at it wrong. Sure, you might have had a few hours of dancing, laughing, and doing whatever you wanted, but what about after? What about blacking out? Hangovers? Vomiting? Disappointing your friends and family? Binging on alcohol is often messy and more unpleasant than pleasant. Keep that in mind when you start to pine after having a pint.
2. Plan a Sober Party or Join One
Most people associate St. Patrick’s with beer, but it’s a lot more than that. The most important thing about any holiday is spending time with friends and loved ones or joining in on social events. Sober parties are a great way to have fun, sing, dance, and enjoy life without alcohol. You can plan your own and invite sober friends and family or look around your area. Many big cities regularly host St. Patrick’s Sober Parties, and if not, a local Sobriety Group or 12-Step organization certainly will. Try to plan your attendance in advance and make sure you have plenty of options.
If you’re planning a sober party yourself, keep in mind that you need things to do. Karaoke, board games, movie marathons, and Irish food are all great ways to keep people entertained. You can also opt for alcohol-free Irish beverages like lime soda, cranberry soda, lemonade with a salted rim, and tomato juice. Most people prefer to avoid making non-alcoholic drinks look like cocktails, which mostly leave them reminiscing about what isn’t there.
3. Join St. Patrick’s Events and Festivities
St. Patrick’s Day events and festivities vary a great deal from coast to coast, but chances are something is going on. Parades, small festivals, bands, and Irish themed parties are just some of your options. For example, Irish Dancing, St. Patrick’s Day Pranks (keep it safe), Irish movies, walking tours of Irish destinations in your city, and even costume parties are often available in most areas.
What should you watch out for? Check for alcohol availability in advance and if you don’t trust yourself, bring a sober buddy along. It can be difficult to say no to an offered alcoholic drink, especially around strangers or friends who don’t know you’re sober. Take precautions in advance and inform relevant people that you aren’t drinking.
4. Join a St. Patrick’s Marathon
While much of the world drinks and carouses around St. Patty’s, a large number of people now take the day to focus on their health with digital and physical marathons and half marathons. While you certainly shouldn’t join a marathon if you haven’t been running or are in bad shape, you may be able to walk it and you can always cheer on the sidelines if your health isn’t up for it.
Check your area to see what’s going on, and then sign up for it or mark it in your calendar if you’re going to attend to cheer. Keep in mind that some marathons will end with beer, so again, bring a sober buddy if you don’t trust yourself to say no. Why is a marathon a great idea? Physical exercise and achievement will give you a huge boost of endorphins, which will help you to feel good, will reduce cravings, and will leave you feeling accomplished and happy rather than bored and sad. You’ll also get to participate in a social event, get plenty of exercise, and you definitely won’t be getting a hangover from it.
5. Enjoy the Food
Ireland isn’t all about beer and whiskey, it’s also home to a rich culinary tradition of comfort food. With American favorites like soda bread, potato bread, shepherd’s pie, beef stew, boxty, coddle, and many other dishes often more available around St. Patrick’s, you’ll also have plenty of options. Either find a restaurant that serves Irish dishes or join family and friends in preparing dishes yourself.
If you do go out, you will likely be prompted to order a Guinness to go along with meal. There are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages you can enjoy instead. You can also tell the waiter upfront that you’re not allowed to have alcohol.
6. Make Sure You Have a Sober Buddy
St. Patrick’s Day means that many of your friends and family will be drinking, unless they agree to abstain to support you. If you go out, many people will be drunk. You will experience cravings and likely triggers. Having a sober buddy, someone you can call, and hopefully the ability to sit in on a sobriety group such as AA can be extremely helpful when you start to experience cravings. Most cravings only last 15-30 minutes. Walk away, call your sober buddy, or go to a group meeting instead. If you can’t, do something else to take your mind off alcohol. For example, go make dinner, volunteer at a homeless kitchen, clean up, offer to drive, or otherwise do something else. By the time you’re done, you might find you’re no longer thinking about alcohol, unless it’s still right in front of you.
Remember, it’s better to ask for help than to relapse. If you’re struggling, tell the people you’re with and either leave or go do something else.
7. Keep Your Motivation in Mind
No matter how much you want to drink, you quit for a reason. Keep that in mind. Many people find that it’s helpful to write out a list of motivations and reasons they quit, including negative ones. For example, you can write down every reason you’re staying sober on one side of a paper and every reason you quit on the other. When you do get the opportunity to drink, your motivation will be much fresher in your mind.
Staying sober on a national holiday can be difficult, especially on St. Patrick’s Day when nearly everyone drinks. It might not be easy, but you can still have fun. With good planning, you can ensure you have plenty of things to do, people to spend time with, and good food to enjoy. Hopefully, you can also fit in exercise, a visit to your group therapy, and time with close friends and family who will motivate you to stay sober. If your family aren’t supportive of your decision to be sober, you should, of course, steer clear.
The longer you’re sober, the easier staying sober will be. Most of it is just about training yourself to find things you enjoy without alcohol.
Good luck and have fun.
If you or a loved one is suffering from drugs or alcohol addiction, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for more information. We are here to help and happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.