Canaan, CT – For those who plan to barhop on St. Patrick’s Day, staying safe has less to do with luck and more to do with vigilance. Because many Americans commemorate the holiday with alcohol, the night often ends in binge drinking – along with a devastating number of drunk driving fatalities.
St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular day of the year for drinking, according to the personal finance website WalletHub. With the holiday falling on a weekend this year, even more individuals may plan on celebrating with friends over drinks. WalletHub projects that in 2019, revelers will consume an average of 4.2 alcoholic beverages on St. Patrick’s Day.
Those who consume multiple drinks can quickly meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women during a two-hour window. Excessive drinking can result in severe consequences, including accidental injury, poisoning, alcoholism, and even death.
Overindulging in alcohol similarly increases an individual’s risk of being involved in a drunk driving crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2016, there were 60 drunk driving fatalities over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. NHTSA also discovered that 69 percent of deadly accidents on the roadways involve drunk drivers.
Individuals who opt to drink on the holiday should remain mindful of their limits and reduce their alcohol intake by eating and staying hydrated with water. They can likewise protect themselves by using a taxi service, finding a designated driver, or staying over a friend’s house to reduce their risk of being in a drunk driving accident.
For those with a history of alcoholism, St. Patrick’s Day may trigger negative thoughts and emotions that can jeopardize sobriety. Luckily, individuals in recovery and others who abstain from drinking do not have to forego St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
“It’s important to have sober fun and surround yourself with people who also have sober fun,” says Amy Sedgwick, Director of Clinical Operations at Mountainside treatment center. “So, if someone in recovery wants to go to a family party, I think going is okay if they have a contingency plan to get out if they feel unsafe.”
Individuals who struggle with problematic drinking can also feel more comfortable and participate in the festivities by focusing on lighthearted, alcohol-free alternatives. “If people in recovery have the opportunity to be at a sober St. Patrick’s Day event, why not? Surrounding themselves with like-minded people is definitely the way to go,” says Sedgwick. “It’s important for people to realize that sobriety can be fun. They can go to picnics, and they can go to parades, and still have fun. There is sober fun in this world.”