Saint Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish culture and religion, but it can also be a hard day for those in recovery. While it has proud roots, Saint Patrick’s Day’s association with alcohol warrants a little extra caution from those in recovery. For some, staying sober on St. Patrick’s Day with friends who drink can be a struggle.
It’s significant to recognize the threat of relapse on St. Patrick’s Day. This is something to keep in mind while preparing to celebrate with friends and loved ones this weekend. However, unless you want to, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world enjoys itself.
The most obvious solution to staying sober is abstaining from celebrating altogether, but this can be tough. Many people early in recovery struggle to manage their triggers, and St. Patrick’s Day is a day full of them. For many, taking a pass on the festivities might be the best for their recovery but can leave them feeling left out.
So, how do we protect ourselves from relapse during one of the heaviest drinking days of the year?
Is It Possible to Stay Sober With Friends Who Drink?
While it’s completely possible, many people in recovery recommend mostly surrounding yourself with others who are in recovery. This creates a community of like-minded individuals who can encourage you in your sobriety.
However, it’s unrealistic to limit your interactions and friendships. Just because someone isn’t in recovery doesn’t mean that they won’t respect your recovery. The truth is that only we can assess our readiness to be around alcohol and friends who drink during our recovery.
If you have friends who drink that have plans for St. Patrick’s Day, be realistic with yourself. If you’re still not sure if it’s a good idea, check out these tips to help you decide.
Make Sure You Have Sober Support
If you’re going out with your friends, make sure that they’re conscious of your recovery. Being transparent with them about your limits and what you can handle will strengthen your friendship while safeguarding your recovery. If you aren’t comfortable sharing any discomfort with your friends, you might need to reevaluate your friendship with them.
Have at least one friend with you who is in recovery and who will help keep you accountable during the celebration.Having someone in the same position as you can make you feel less isolated and alone.
Be sure to keep your sponsor on speed-dial, or at least someone close to you who understands your recovery. Little things like keeping a sponsor or loved on close at hand can also give you a sense of security.
Understand Your Limits
Everyone has triggers that can shatter their recovery. It’s important to be aware of your personal limits and what you can or can’t handle. The truth is that there are some people in recovery who can’t be around alcohol at all, and that’s okay.
It’s also significant to utilize the behavioral tools we learn in treatment. Part of this is also understanding that we can only resist so much temptation. Sometimes this means passing up on opportunities.
Having an escape plan in place can also help you feel more comfortable in a setting with alcohol and drinking. This could mean having a friend, family member, or sponsor pick you up, or leaving with someone you trust.
If at any point you feel uncomfortable or like you won’t make it through the night without drinking, leave. Sometimes it’s better to seem rude or standoffish than to compromise your recovery.
Prioritize Your Recovery
If we remember the lessons we learned in recovery, and everything we’ve accomplished since we entered recovery, we can do this. There are small steps that you can take to guard yourself against relapse.
One thing you can do is drink a mocktail to feel more involved in the “party” atmosphere. It’s also significant to have activities that aren’t just alcohol-centric.
Anyone who understands what you’re going through will want you to put your recovery before one night of fun. The most important thing is keep your recovery intact.
If for some reason you’re in a position where you can’t share about your recovery, put yourself in positions where you have excuses not to drink. Offer to be the designated driver or tell those that you’re with that you’ll be the “responsible one.” Making a bad impression on others is nowhere near as bad as putting yourself in a position where you might be tempted to drink.
If you have to leave a party early, don’t worry about what others might think. It may very well be that you’ll have to sit this St. Patrick’s Day out and just declare the best intentions for next year.
The Support and Care That You Need
Just because you’re in recovery doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate or have fun. One of Recovery Unplugged’s goals is to show that it’s possible to say #iPartySober.
However, if you find that the temptation is too great, we’re here for you. If you or a loved one can’t make it through the holiday, make sure to reach out to us as soon as possible. Recovery Unplugged is here to help.