Enjoying St. Patrick’s Day without Substances

When we first enter recovery, and St. Patrick’s Day pops up on a calendar or in an advertisement, it can be easy to dismiss the holiday as simply an excuse for excessive drinking. Once we broaden our horizons a bit, we can find new, healthy ways to enjoy the festivities and traditions.

Parades, Irish Soda Bread, and Wearing O’ the Green

Thinking back to your school days can help remind you of the ways to celebrate this holiday without focusing on alcohol. As a child, you might have had a class party, where everyone wore whole outfits of different shades of green and ate Irish soda bread slathered in fresh butter. Perhaps your family attended the local parade, or maybe you played an instrument and marched yourself! Those parades require quite a bit of logistical support, so one great way to be active in your community might be to volunteer to help set up or clean up after the event.  If you do decide to visit an event where alcohol is served, make sure you have a quick exit strategy and an easy way to contact your support network if needed. One caveat to remember is that even purportedly “alcohol-free” beers, mimosas, and other cocktails contain a small percentage of alcohol by volume and should be avoided by those seeking to maintain total abstinence.

Staying closer to home, reaching out, or looking inwards

If the holiday is particularly triggering for you or a loved one, it is simple enough to decline to participate in the more uncomfortable elements and choose to stay home, watch a parade on television, or connect with supportive friends. Many recovery support groups host marathon meetings all day, or have group meals full of potatoes, meats and even more of the ubiquitous soda bread. There are also public groups that host non-drinking related activities, like Sober St. Patrick’s Day, in NYC and around the country. You can compose some recovery-related limericks and share them with a friend for a laugh. The ultimate green tradition for St. Patrick’s Day for you may now be a walk or hike out in nature. Just remember that this is only one day of the year, and you can successfully overcome any obstacles you encounter.

Handling the stresses of early recovery isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. For other ideas on handling potentially challenging situations with grace, visit the Ammon Foundation blog!