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How to Have a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

For some people, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the life of St. Patrick (c. 385-461), the patron saint of Ireland. March 17 is associated with his death and commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. The day now is also a celebration of Irish culture and heritage and can include parades and festivals.

St. Patrick’s day is also a day to drink. In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular drinking holidays, right up there with New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. The holiday can be a fun and festive time. St. Patrick’s Day can be challenging for people who don’t drink when recovering from alcohol use disorder. The sight and smell of alcohol can seem to be everywhere and can trigger cravings. It is quite possible, however, to have a fun, celebratory time and maintain your sobriety.

Remember Your “Why”

If you are concerned about maintaining your sobriety on St Patrick’s Day, remember your “why” or the reasons you decided that abstaining from alcohol was the right choice for you. Spend some time writing these reasons down–the act of writing is helpful to many people because it engages more senses. You feel the pen in your hand and your hand resting on the paper, or you feel the computer keys under your fingertips. You see the words appearing on the page or the computer screen. You hear the pen or pencil on the paper or the gentle tap of the computer keys.

Write about how your life has improved since you stopped drinking and what your life was like before. Write about why maintaining your sobriety is important to you.

Staying Sober Around People Who Are Drinking

If being with people who are drinking won’t derail your sobriety, you could volunteer as the designated driver for your friends. If a group of friends is going to a party, you can be the sober friend who gets everyone home safely. If your friends are going out to bars, you can drive them from bar to bar, keeping everyone safe. Many bars and restaurants give free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers and, if you are at a party, being the driver provides you an excellent reason not to drink, a reason that even the most ardent drink-pusher should accept. Being the designated driver in either scenario enables you to be with your friends and gives you a very concrete way to be of service.

Plan a Sober Celebration

Another way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and maintain your sobriety is to plan a sober celebration and invite like-minded friends.

Do you and your friends enjoy movies? If so, plan an Irish-themed movie night. Mix up some festive “mocktails,” prepare tasty snacks, dim the lights, and enjoy the show. Movies you can select from include My Left Foot, which won the Oscar for best picture in 1989; The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, or Once, released in 2007.

If you and your friends enjoy cooking, you could get together and prepare an Irish meal. Corned beef and cabbage are traditionally eaten on St. Patrick’s Day. You could also whip up some Irish stew and soda bread. Other traditional Irish dishes include black and white pudding, served at breakfast; coddle, a stew traditionally made with leftovers; and barmbrack, served at “tea time.” After dinner, you could play Irish trivia or listen to Irish music.

If you are part of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there may be an alcohol-free event planned in your area. Check online, or information may be available at one of the meetings you attend. Remember that many people want to go to a meeting during holidays; many chapters plan to hold meetings on those dates. You should be able to find a meeting to attend on St. Patrick’s Day. If you decide to go to a meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, you will likely find many people in attendance.

Virtual Events and “Sober St. Patrick’s Day”

Some communities sponsor alcohol-free events, and there are virtual events that you could attend online. For example, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of “Sober St. Patrick’s Day,” a global virtual celebration beginning at 4 p.m. in New York and 8 p.m. in Ireland. The virtual evening includes a cook-along and a preview of a musical tale about the life of St. Patrick. The evening is organized by the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, Inc.

Holidays throughout the year, including St. Patrick’s Day, can be challenging for people in recovery from alcohol use disorder. At Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment center located in New Jersey, we equip our clients with the life skills they need to cope with urges and cravings and successfully maintain their sober lifestyle. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment facility; in addition to treating substance use disorder, we also treat mental health issues that often go along with addiction. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just on treating the addiction. Our center is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy, and we create an individualized treatment plan for each client, including modern therapeutic techniques and ancient wellness practices. In addition to talk therapy and group support, we offer our clients a range of holistic treatment modalities, including family constellation therapy, brain mapping, yoga and meditation, and art and music therapy. If you are ready to be free from an addiction, or you have concerns about a family member or friend, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information. We are here to help.

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