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Staying Sober on St. Patrick’s Day

“Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well-known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock”.

When you enter into recovery for alcohol and substance abuse there a few holidays that pop up every year that make it difficult to go out and remain sober. New Years, the Fourth of July, and Cinco de Mayo are well-known drinking holidays where bars are packed and there is always a festive party-taking place. St. Patrick’s Day, originally a celebration of the spread of Christianity in Ireland has turned into a night of bar hopping, green beer and heavy partying. All of this celebration may be great for the rest of the world, but for people who are working a program of recovery from drugs and alcohol, it can be a difficult and even dangerous night to try and go out. However, if you plan to partake in the celebration without engaging in drinking, here are a few ways to enjoy the lucky charm Irish holiday:

Offer to be a designated driver
If you are going out with people who drink, try and pick a bar that requires you to drive. Agreeing ahead of time to be a designated driver not only gives you a good excuse if people ask why you aren’t drinking, but it also gives you a concrete reminder that others will be affected if you decide to go for that first drink.

Enjoy the Irish holiday without going to a bar
There are many communities that plan Irish parades, carnivals and festivals that do not revolve around drinking but instead are centered on Irish music and food. Check with your city or local community to see if they are hosting an Irish festival.

Always have an escape plan
If you do choose to go out with your friends and become tempted or uncomfortable around the drinking scene than make sure you have a way to escape. Make sure you are able to leave the situation safely and comfortable. There is probably a chair in a support group meeting that is just waiting for you to come and fill it.

Stay home or plan an event with your sober friends
If you are in the early stages of recovery and do not feel safe being around alcohol, then avoid the bars altogether and stay home or plan an outing with your sober friends. Cook a meal, go see a movie, catch up on work, grab dinner, go bowling or engage in an activity that you enjoy, regardless if it is related to St. Patrick’s Day.

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