Today is St. Patrick’s Day, which means many Americans will be wearing green, going to parades, and drinking. This can be a festive time, but if you are newly sober, the association between St. Patrick’s Day and alcohol also presents relapse risks. You may feel wary about the social aspect of the holiday, as it can be isolating to watch your friends go bar-hopping without you.
But there are ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without feeling left out or compromising the progress you have made in recovery. To maintain your peace of mind – and avoid becoming green with envy thinking about what others are doing – make your own sober St. Patrick’s Day plans using these tips:
1. Focus on why you have chosen sobriety.
It can be empowering to remind yourself why you abstain from drinking in the first place. Reflect on the recovery milestones you have achieved so far, along with your recovery goals for the future, to cultivate a more positive mindset. You can also write a list of your objectives as a physical reminder to keep yourself mindful and accountable during difficult times. Reinforcing your sobriety will help you feel more confident if you run into potential stressors or triggers.
2. Celebrate Irish culture without drinking.
You know the popular expression: “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Embracing Irish cultural traditions on the holiday will allow you to be festive without relying on alcohol. Try these St. Patrick’s Day customs:
- Wear green! Some say that the color became a symbol of Irish pride after the Great Irish Rebellion of 1641. Incorporating green into your outfit on St. Patrick’s Day is a simple, fun way to get into the spirit of the holiday.
- Enjoy traditional Irish fare. You don’t have to be a fan of corned beef and cabbage (an Americanized Irish dish, depending on who you ask) to enjoy traditional Irish meals. Use the holiday as a chance to expand your palate and try foods like Irish stew, soda bread, and boxty.
- Attend the parade. St. Patrick’s Day parades are held throughout the U.S. in multiple locations, like New York City, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. Check to see whether there are any parades near you, and spend the day enjoying the colorful costumes, floats, and marching bands.
- Visit an Irish music festival. There’s nothing quite like watching performers do an Irish step-dance or listening to the distinctive sounds of bagpipes, flutes, and accordions fill the air. Get into the St. Patrick’s Day mood by reveling in Irish music at a concert or music festival.
3. Throw a sober St. Patrick’s Day party.
If no one you know is throwing a substance-free St. Patrick’s Day party, host your own get-together with sober friends and family. Put up green decorations, play some Irish music, serve traditional dishes, and invite loved ones to spend the day together. You can also get creative and whip up some festive, green non-alcoholic drinks to serve to your guests. Throwing your own celebration will give you more control, helping you keep your sobriety intact. And finally, you would be providing your other friends in recovery with a safe space to commemorate the occasion.
4. Spend time with your support system.
Whether you plan to throw a party or watch Netflix all day, you should check in with your recovery network. Even if you are not a party planner, find other activities to do on St. Patrick’s Day with peers in your support system. Whether that means cooking, playing a sport, or going to the movies, there are tons of ways you and a companion can spend time together. Going out with a peer will reduce your chances of experiencing loneliness, a common relapse trigger. Spending the day outside or starting a new tradition with friends will also occupy your mind while others are out drinking or partying.
If the urge to drink on the holiday becomes overwhelming and your friends or relatives are unavailable, you can attend a sober meeting or event. It is likely that others will have similar concerns and you can find comfort knowing you are not alone. Discussing your thoughts helps get heavy thoughts off your chest. Additionally, attending a support group allows you to explore and release negative emotions, which will help you acquire coping skills and move forward with your new sober lifestyle. You can always call a loved one you trust or contact your sponsor if you have any additional concerns.
5. Keep matters in perspective.
Despite your best efforts to make other plans, you may still feel like you are missing out on the festivities or find yourself thinking about alcohol, which can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. No matter how many complex thoughts or emotions the holiday can bring up, keep in mind that St. Patrick’s Day is only one day out of the year and there will be brighter times ahead. You have made it this far in your recovery, and you have all of the power to keep this positive momentum going.
The pressure to drink on St. Patrick’s Day can be distressing for a person in recovery. However, it is entirely possible to find substance-free ways to participate in the excitement. Maintaining your sobriety when everyone else seems to be drinking can be especially challenging but look at everything you have overcome. By focusing on alternative activities, remaining mindful of your emotional state, and staying connected with others, you can enjoy a sober St. Patrick’s Day and still have fun.