Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Recovery

St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on Saturday, March 17th – a day that many people in recovery find especially daunting, especially because St. Patrick’s Day is ranked as one of the Top Four US drinking holidays. But there are some ways to enjoy the day that are healthy, productive, and empowering.

You’ll want to skip the parties – especially if the smell of alcohol can be triggering. But there are some things you could do instead to keep in the celebratory mood.

Throw Your Own Party

If you’re the host, you know you won’t be tempted to drink because it will be an alcohol-free zone! So make some snacks, pull out some board games, turn on a great playlist and voila, your St. Patrick’s Day party is on fire.

Start New Traditions

If you make St. Patrick’s Day about something other than drinking, you can recreate the day in your own vision and change the connotations. Maybe it’s the day you throw a picnic – large or intimate. Maybe it’s the day you take a mini-vacation. Maybe it’s a day where you have a large family gathering. Or maybe it’s a movie marathon day.

Hit A Meeting

If the idea of St. Patrick’s Day is proving a bit too much then head to a 12-step meeting. Being with friends and confidants can provide a lot of support on days like this. And, of course, feel free to connect with your sponsor too.

Maintain A Sense Of Humor

It’s always important to maintain a sense of humor about pretty much everything as it can be a great pressure relief. Maybe wear a shirt reading “I’m Irish And Sober.”

Hang With The Like-Minded

Today’s a good day to spend with fellow recovery friends – going for a meal, a movie, or something light.

Have A Good Excuse

If you do find yourself at an alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day party, have a prepared excuse for when you need to get out and get out quick. This not only allows you to make a quick exit but also gives you the security that you need; knowing that you have an instant out should help you feel better and less tempted in general.

And you don’t have to stop there, either. Windward Way suggests making a list of all the great things that have come into your life since you’ve gone sober to remember why a life without alcohol is so much better than one with. So whether you want to add things like how much better you feel, how much better you look, your sober friends, your new-found productivity, a growing bank account and/or the love and support of family, whatever your list looks like will be very special to you.

It’s not only people who’ve been sober for years who have to deal with St. Patrick’s Day – it’s also a huge temptation for college students. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 150,000 college students form an alcohol-related health problem every year, and binge drinking is on the rise.

According to USA Today College, almost 600,000 students are injured— and approximately 1,825 students die — from alcohol-related accidents each year.

That’s why students at University of Michigan and Michigan State held a St. Patrick’s Day Sober Skate Party last year, sponsored by Students for Recovery.

Molly Partyon, a 23 year-old senior at Michigan attended the Sober Skate and loved it. “Priority number one is to have fun,” she said. “When I was in recovery, my big fear was that I wouldn’t have fun anymore … it was baffling to think I could have a life outside of drugs and alcohol.”

Also in recovery, Garret Gibbons, a graduate student in pathology at Michigan, said “For me, Fridays and Saturdays were tough. Those were nights when I knew I would party, knew I would drink. That’s why this is an important time for us.”

The program manager for the Collegiate Recovery Program at the University of Michigan, Matthew Statman, agrees that events like the Sober Skate allow for a healthy and stable locale for students in recovery. “People need to feel like they’re part of something like they’re supported,” said Statman. “Being part of a community is the most important part of recovery.”

Take a look in your area to see what safe and sober events are being held and join one of them if you feel inclined. However you choose to spend St. Patrick’s Day this year, stay safe and sober.

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