Recovery

5 Ways to Stay Sober on St. Patrick's Day

March 13th, 2019
5 Ways to Stay Sober on St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching, which means many Americans will be wearing green, going to parades, and drinking. This can be a festive time, but if you are newly sober, the association between St. Patrick’s Day and alcohol also presents relapse risks. You may feel wary about the social aspect of the holiday, as it can be isolating to watch your friends go bar-hopping without you.

But there are ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without feeling left out or compromising the progress you have made in recovery. To maintain your peace of mind – and avoid becoming green with envy thinking about what your friends are doing – make your own St. Patrick’s Day plans using these tips. 

Tips for Having Sober Fun on St. Patrick’s Day

1. Remember why you have chosen sobriety.

It can be empowering to remind yourself why you abstain from drinking in the first place. Reflect on the recovery milestones you have achieved so far, along with your recovery goals for the future, to cultivate a more positive mindset. You can also write a list of your objectives as a physical reminder to keep yourself mindful and accountable during difficult times.  

2. Celebrate Irish Culture.

You know the popular expression: “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Embracing Irish cultural traditions on the holiday will allow you to be festive without feeling left out. Try these St. Patrick’s Day customs:

  • Enjoy traditional Irish fare. You don’t have to be a fan of corned beef and cabbage (an Americanized Irish dish, depending on who you ask) to enjoy traditional Irish meals. Use the holiday as a chance to expand your palate and try foods like Irish stew, soda bread, and boxty.
  • Attend a parade. St. Patrick’s Day parades have been held throughout the U.S. in multiple locations, including New York City, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. Check to see whether there are any parades near you, and spend the day enjoying the colorful costumes, floats, and marching bands.
  • Visit an Irish music festival. There’s nothing quite like watching performers do an Irish step-dance or listening to the distinctive sounds of bagpipes, flutes, and accordions fill the air. Get into the St. Patrick’s Day mood by reveling in Irish music at a concert or music festival.

3. Throw your own St. Patrick’s Day party.

If no one you know is throwing an alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day party, host your own get-together with sober friends and family. Put up green decorations, play some Irish music, serve traditional dishes, and invite those closest to you to spend the day together. Throwing your own celebration will give you more control, helping you keep your sobriety intact. Best of all, you would be providing your other friends in recovery with a safe space to commemorate the occasion.

4. Spend time with your support system.

Whether you choose to throw your own party or watch Netflix all day, you should make a point of checking in with your recovery network. Even if you are not a party planner, you can find an activity to do on St. Patrick’s Day that you enjoy – whether that means cooking, playing a sport, or going to the movies – and invite a companion to join you. Going out with a peer will reduce your chances of experiencing loneliness, a common relapse trigger. Spending the day outside or doing something new will also occupy your mind while others are having alcohol-fueled celebrations.

If the urge to drink on the holiday becomes overwhelming and your friends or relatives are unavailable, you can attend a sober meeting or event. There is a strong possibility that others will have similar concerns, and being able to discuss your thoughts with other like-minded people will remind you that your feelings are valid and that you are not alone. Additionally, attending a support group allows you to explore and release negative emotions, which will help you acquire coping skills and move forward with your new sober lifestyle. You can always call a loved one you trust or contact your sponsor if you have any additional concerns.

5. Keep matters in perspective.

Despite your best efforts to make other plans, you may still feel like you are missing out on the festivities or find yourself thinking about alcohol, which can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. No matter how many complex thoughts or emotions the holiday can bring up, keep in mind that St. Patrick’s Day is only one day out of the year and there will be brighter times ahead. Be kind to yourself. You have made it this far in your recovery, and you have all of the power to keep this positive momentum going.

The pressure to drink on St. Patrick’s Day can be distressing for a person in recovery, but it is entirely possible to find substance-free ways to participate in the excitement. Maintaining your sobriety when everyone else seems to be drinking can be especially challenging but remember that you are stronger than your addiction. By focusing on alternative activities, remaining mindful of your emotional state, and staying connected with others, you can have fun on St. Patrick’s Day while safeguarding your sobriety.


If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. Reach out to Mountainside by calling 888 833 4676.