In What Ways Can You Still Have A Fun, Sober St. Patrick’s Day?
Remember How You Got Here
This will be my first sober St. Patrick’s Day, and I am a bit apprehensive. In years past, I’ve drunk my face off and engaged in all the crazy antics that are associated with the holiday. Good excuse to drink yourself into a stupor right? One of the most important things I learned in recovery at Resurgence Behavioral Health is part of the disease is finding excuses to drink. Holidays are a pretty convenient excuse. Everyone else is getting wasted, why wouldn’t I? It’s a difficult thing to reason with. Anyone who is easily influenced by others will have a hard time not drinking on St. Patrick’s Day.
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Celebrating any holiday when you’re in recovery can be a bit nerve-wracking. When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, it’s probably the trigger of all triggers. It’s the ‘drinking holiday’. We’re all used to seeing those big groups of people in green attire stumbling from bar to bar. I’ve certainly been a part of those groups myself during my drinking days. Any holiday that revolves primarily around drinking is one that you’ll want to be wary of.
I realize that this will probably be a challenging one to get through, and that is why I’ve prepared accordingly. The folks at Resurgence Behavioral Health have done more than a great job of giving me the tools to work my way through it. One of the things I have to remind myself is I can still have a good time without worry about slipping up. If I’m just going to spend all my time worrying about not drinking, then that’s all that’s going to be on my mind. Finding the right distractions is key.
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Once Again, Remember How You Got Here
There’s a reason you’re not drinking on St. Patrick’s Day. A huge part of being in recovery is reminding yourself of your progress and the work you put in to get to this point. I will admit, in the weeks leading up to this point, I have heard the whispers in my mind. I have had those little thoughts creep in. Maybe I could have a drink or two and not go off the deep end. Plenty of other people celebrate this holiday and get through it just fine! I’m not other people. I have to remind myself often that I simply cannot drink at all. It just can’t happen. If it does, nothing good will come of it. That is a fact.
I was taught at Resurgence that our minds are very good at playing tricks on us when we’re in recovery, especially on well-known drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. Those little thoughts will creep in at unexpected times. If you aren’t careful, you’ll find a way to rationalize those little thoughts and it will lead you to relapse. It’s just the nature of the disease. Having the mental toughness to keep yourself on track is something that you always have to work on. It’s not something you can completely fix. It’s a practice. You can’t guess where your mind is going to be at any given time.
I have a photograph that I took of myself one night when I was blackout drunk and feeling like death. It was taken not long before I got sober. I had been toying with the idea of sobriety, and I distinctly remember thinking “If I take this picture of myself looking completely miserable, maybe it will be a deterrent in the future.” It turned out to be a great idea. I have this photo on my computer and my phone.
On top of that, I made a printout of it that I keep in my wallet. Looking at this photo occasionally helps me remember what that feeling was like. It was not good. This may not be a tactic that works for everyone, but I feel that this photo has helped me avoid drinking on several occasions.
Just because you aren’t drinking doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time on St. Patrick’s Day. This concept seems crazy when you are in the thick of your addiction. How do you have fun without alcohol? It’s not as hard as it seems. Changing your concept of fun and applying it to your sober lifestyle will take some adjusting.
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Once you get to that point, you’ll be amazed at how rewarding it can be. I often shake my head when I think about the attitude I had during my drinking era, especially on holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. Back in those days, the idea of a sober get-together was beyond lame. Little did I know how wrong I was on that. It was my attitude that was lame.
Resurgence taught us again and again, having the right support group is essential. A holiday like St. Patrick’s Day is a great way to rally your sober peers and still have an enjoyable time. If you celebrate with like-minded people, you won’t have to go at it alone and you have people who will help hold you accountable.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the other cultural aspects of the holiday as well. Throw a party with some classic Irish dishes! Put on an Irish-themed movie! (Darby O’Gill anyone?) No matter what you are doing in a group setting, you always have options beyond alcohol.
If you have the right attitude, the right support system as well as a determination to stick to your process, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful and sober St, Patrick’s Day. Like I mentioned earlier when you are drinking it’s hard to see beyond drinking. It enhances everything right? Wrong. Discovering that you can have just as much fun when you are sober is a wonderful moment. I honestly look forward to the challenge. Should I feel triggered at any point, I know that I have the strength to work my way through it and also have a good time.