By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 3.11.2022 –
To most people, St. Patrick’s Day is regarded as a time to embrace the spirit of the Irish, celebrate wildly, and of course, drink lots of Irish whiskey and green beer. The last part is especially true in the secular sense of the holiday, and many people, who likely are not even Irish, get excited for the day just for the excuse to get drunk. For someone seeking, or in recovery this is a holiday that can be filled with fear, frustration, and temptation.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to St. Patrick’s Day than heavy drinking and wild partying; there are ways to celebrate without feeling left out or compromising the work you’ve put into your recovery. Pull out your four-leaf clover decorations and embrace the day without drinking a drop of alcohol.
It is possible to have fun without substances.
First and foremost, you need to remind yourself that drugs and alcohol do not equate to fun. There are various ways to celebrate and enjoy yourself without drinking or using substances. Enjoy the day with your friends and family by going out dancing or enjoying a yummy meal.
You entered recovery for a reason.
Another helpful way to protect your recovery on holidays like St. Patty’s Day is to remind yourself why you entered recovery in the first place. Taking the time to reflect on your recovery milestones and consider how different your life is now that you have taken charge and decided to stop using substances, will help you approach the holiday with a more positive and enthusiastic mindset. Remember to think about your goals for the future and remind yourself that one day is not worth sacrificing all of the work you put into recovery.
Attend a local recovery event.
Lots of community support groups throw their own holiday celebrations to ensure everyone has a place to go that won’t tempt them with alcohol or drugs. These are a great way to enjoy the holiday worry-free.
Celebrate in other ways.
Attend a parade – Cities across the country celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by hosting parades. It’s an excellent way to get into the spirit of the holiday, spend time with friends and family, and sit back, relax, and watch the colorful collection of floats and musical acts.
Throw your own party – Consider throwing your own substance-free St. Patty’s Day celebration if the idea of going to a bar, or holiday party causes anxiety. You can decorate how you want, play the best Irish music, cook up or order some traditional dishes, put together some fun non-alcoholic drinks, and invite your friends and family.
Simple ways to honor the holiday – Celebrating doesn’t need to be this big “to-do.” You can simply wear green clothing or jewelry, or try new foods that are traditionally Irish.
Go for a run – If you’re into running, there are often St. Patrick’s Day 5k races. And they can be a lot more fun than your average race… Lots of participants choose to spice up the day with a dash of Irish flair by dressing up as a leprechaun, dying themselves green, or carrying a pot of “gold”. If running isn’t your thing, it can still be plenty of fun to cheer on the participants from the sidelines. You can even make a day of it with your friends by bringing lawn chairs and your favorite foods.
Have a recovery buddy.
It is always easier when you’re not doing it alone. Peer pressure can be powerful, so if your other friends are drinking, you could be tempted to join in. Having someone else with you that is not using substances can help you keep each other on track throughout the day. Especially if you plan to be somewhere where substances might be present, decide on an exit plan in place if things get too overwhelming
And always be prepared.
Of course we all love a fun, exciting holiday, but protecting your recovery is most important.
It is always important to have a plan in place to help get you through the day, especially if you find yourself tempted or struggling.
– Attend a recovery meeting – No matter where you are, whether it be close to home or traveling, you can always find a meeting nearby.
– Call your sponsor / support network – If you are having a tough day, do not hesitate to reach out to those that have helped you thus far. After all, that’s what they are there for.
– Spend time with recovering friends – All of the activities we discussed today can be enjoyed with other people you have met along your journey. More than likely, they are hoping to find something to do that doesn’t involve drinking as well.
What matters most about any holiday is that it brings people together for an enjoyable time…So, you can really do whatever you’d like… The fun of the day does not come from alcohol, but from the company you choose to share it with.
Oh, and of course, everyone should remember to wear green to avoid getting pinched.