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How to stay sober on St. Patrick's Day

Marie Garceau

Special to the Village News

St. Patrick’s Day in 2024 is not celebrated for the same reasons it once was as times change and holidays take on different meanings.

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

Sounds fun, right? There are undoubtedly good times had by all who take part, but if you want to stay sober and avoid alcohol, it can pose a challenge. What seems like harmless fun quickly turns into days, months or years of sobriety down the drain.

Suppose someone is in recovery from alcoholism, choosing a healthy lifestyle or recently decided to give up alcohol for whatever reason; the temptation of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is tough to avoid. In any social setting this time of year, there is lively music, good food and lots to drink.

While it is only one day a year, it can quickly derail any progress on sobriety. Fortunately, there are practical approaches you can take to stay sober and reap the benefits of St. Patrick’s Day sobriety.

Initially, the best benefit of sobriety on St. Patrick’s Day is avoiding impaired driving and not becoming another statistic. In California, alcohol-impaired driving remains one of the biggest threats to public safety. According to a 2021 report, alcohol-involved crashes increased by 16% from 2020 to 2021. If you choose to celebrate, do not drink and drive and plan ahead.

Staying sober means knowing what to do; consider some pointers.

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. It 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. It 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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