The people's voice of reason

Tips to Stay Sober on St. Patrick's Day

By Marie Garceau

That green time of year is upon us, with many people celebrating and becoming just a little bit Irish. While most of the traditional customs associated with St. Patrick’s Day have faded away, it remains a celebratory day of lively music, food, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Most restaurants, bars, and pubs are doing something, whether live music, games, or food and drink specials. No one will deny that large quantities of alcohol are consumed. This can pose a challenge for anyone sober, new to sobriety, or recovering from addiction if they choose to celebrate the day.

Fortunately, there are practical tips you can use to avoid relapse, maintain sobriety, and enjoy yourself if you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Outside of the personal reasons people choose sobriety or recover from addiction, there is a significant societal benefit to sobriety and not drinking on St. Patrick’s Day. You are removing all chances of impaired driving. Most people do not set out to drive impaired, but it does not take much for alcohol to impair a person's judgment.

Many of the alcohol-involved vehicle collisions occur because the person felt they were ok to drive. According to Drive Safe Alabama, in 2021, there were 208 deaths in 5,839 crashes with suspected alcohol or drug impairment. The top three most prevalent crash types are restraint not used, speeding, and alcohol or drug use. Unfortunately, on days like St. Patrick’s, there is a greater risk of more impaired driving.

While abstaining from alcohol and avoiding relapse may seem challenging, there is some good information you can use.

Remind yourself why you are sober, and don’t do it alone. You can still have fun and celebrate but 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 removed alcohol from your life. Be cautious around possible triggers that pose a challenge. Most people in this situation choose to skip the bar and find something fun to do or go to a sober celebration.

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, like 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; there is accountability and someone to lean on.

Marie Garceau has been working in the field of substance use and addiction recovery for over a decade. She works at DRS and primarily focuses on reaching out to the community and spreading awareness.


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