Want to stay sober on St. Patrick’s Day? Here’s how

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by Marie Garceau | Special to the Courier

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t celebrated for the same reasons it once was. Times change, and holidays take on different meanings.

While some still see it as a family-centric religious celebration or a break from Lent-related restrictions, the modern holiday focuses primarily on parties, parades, green beer, bar specials, and heavy drinking.

Sounds fun, right? There are undoubtedly good times to be had by some who partake, but if you want to stay sober and avoid alcohol, the holiday can be challenging. Suppose someone is in recovery from alcoholism; the temptations of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are tough to avoid, with lively music, good food, and lots to drink. What may seem like harmless fun to many can quickly turn into days, months, or years of sobriety down the drain.

Fortunately, there are practical approaches one can take to stay sober.

Of course, the mostly valuable benefit of sobriety on St. Patrick’s Day is avoiding impaired driving. Alcohol impaired driving remains one of the biggest threats to public safety in California. And according to a 2021 report by the California Office of Traffic Safety, alcohol involved crashes increased by 16% from 2020 to 2021. So, if you choose to celebrate, please plan ahead, and don’t drink and drive.

Consider these pointers for remaining sober on St. Patrick’s Day:

• Remind yourself why you are sober, and don’t do it alone. You can still have fun and celebrate, but you may want to do it with other sober people. Everyone has their reasons why they stopped drinking; remind yourself of those reasons and hold yourself accountable.

• Know your triggers. It doesn’t matter if you are a recovering addict or have simply chosen to remove alcohol from your life. Be cautious around possible triggers that may pose a challenge. Most people in this situation choose to skip the bar and find something else fun to do.

• It can be helpful to keep a non-alcoholic drink or “mocktail” in your hand. People will not bother you to ask if you want a drink if you already have something to sip on, such as a mocktail. This also leads to planning how to say “no.” You will encounter social pressure if you go to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s unavoidable. It’s wise to practice ways to refuse alcohol.

• Finally, if all else fails, take a walk outside if you feel overwhelmed. The most straightforward solutions are usually the best. Remove yourself from any situation you know will lead to relapse. This is also why it’s essential to be with a sober friend or loved one, as there is accountability and someone to lean on.

The free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s helpline is (800) 626-4357.

Marie Garceau has worked in substance use and addiction recovery for more than a decade.


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