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For many, St. Patrick’s Day is a fun and festive occasion. Originally intended as an observation of the death of Ireland’s patron saint, it has become a celebration of Irish culture complete with food, music, dancing, and green as far as the eye can see.
With the average person consuming 4.2 alcoholic drinks on St. Patrick’s Day, it has also become one of the most popular drinking holidays in the United States. 152 percent more beer is sold on the March 17th holiday than usual, and 819 percent more Guinness is consumed than on the average day. 32 percent of men admit to binge drinking on the occasion. For individuals who are in recovery or attempting to limit their drinking, this makes celebrating St. Patrick’s Day tricky.
Spending St. Patrick’s Day in recovery may feel lonely. The festive atmosphere, the sight and smell of alcohol, and the fear of missing out (FOMO) can trigger cravings and temptation.
With the proper planning, however, it’s entirely possible to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day sober—and still have fun in the process. Try these helpful tips and fun sober activities to enjoy St. Paddy’s without risking your recovery or safety.
Remember Your Motivation
You decided to quit or limit your drinking for a reason. Before dealing with a potential trigger like St. Patrick’s Day, it can be helpful to put those reasons in writing. What led you to make this change in the first place? How has your life improved since changing your relationship to alcohol? Why is staying sober important to you?
When in recovery, it’s possible to find yourself glamorizing former days of drinking or using. If you start reminiscing about fun St. Patrick’s Days of the past, take a step back. It probably wasn’t all good. Don’t mentally gloss over horrible hangovers, vomiting, embarrassing moments, and the other unpleasant effects of binge drinking.
Rally Your Support System
If you’re worried about staying sober for St. Patrick’s, talk to supportive friends and family members. Simply discussing your fears with people who are there for you can make a big difference.
If you have any other friends in recovery, or who simply don’t drink, get in contact and make a plan. Peer pressure, and the social aspects of drinking play a major role in the temptation to relapse. Reverse the equation if you can: set yourself up with a group of sober buddies, and pledge to hold one another accountable throughout the festivities.
Host a Sober Party
The best way to ensure your St. Patrick’s Day party is sober is to host your own. Make a few snacks, mix some mocktails, and turn on a festive playlist. Watch movies, play your favorite board games, or dance to some Irish tunes.
Invite friends who want to limit their drinking too, and enjoy the supportive and alcohol-free evening together.
Watch Irish-Themed Movies
Start a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition, like an Irish movie night. Some good options include “My Left Foot,” “Once,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Commitments,” “The Departed,” and “Brooklyn.” If you’re into animated movies, check out “The Secret of Kells.”
Going to the movie theater is another option if you’d prefer to get out of the house. With many people out celebrating at the pub, you’re sure to get a great seat!
Enjoy an Irish Potluck
Eat hearty Irish food with good company, enjoying classic grub like corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, or Irish beef stew. Other options include Irish soda bread, shepherd’s pie, and festive treats like shamrock cookies.
Invite friends to bring their favorite dishes, and their favorite non-alcoholic beverages. Try making green frosting, green baked goods, or green soft drinks!
Dance the Night Away
You don’t have to go out to a bar or club to dance. Gather a few friends, and learn traditional Irish dances via YouTube or a class. Or just dance to your favorite playlist as you eat, drink green mocktails, and enjoy other fun sober activities.
Have a Craft Night
For many people, crafting is both fun and relaxing. Having a St. Patrick’s Day craft night is a great way to keep your mind and hands occupied.
You can find tons of St. Paddy’s-themed craft ideas on Pinterest, or through a quick Google search. Make a shamrock wreath or crown, a pot of gold with a rainbow, a leprechaun puppet, or your very own “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt. Best of all, crafting is family-friendly. If you or your friends have children, it can be a great way to get everyone together, and start a new holiday tradition.
Join a Local Sober Event
Many cities host regular sober events and outings. If you don’t feel like planning your own party or gathering, see if there’s a local “sober for St. Patrick’s” event you can attend. Plus, these events are a great way to expand your circle of sober friends.
Plan an Exit Strategy
The easiest way to have a sober St. Patrick’s Day is to avoid the drinking and partying scene entirely. If this isn’t possible, practice saying “no” and plan an exit strategy.
What will you say if someone offers you a drink? If you start to feel uncomfortable or anxious, how will you make a quick exit? Answering these questions in advance makes it easier to avoid in-the-moment temptation. Holding a non-alcoholic beverage and bringing like-minded friends along are also helpful strategies.
With a little creativity and planning, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in recovery is not only possible, but fun and memorable too.
That said, having extra support can make a big difference for many people. Ria Health offers a complete program to help you quit or cut back on drinking, all from your smartphone. We offer regular coaching meetings, app-based tools, and online support groups. We even offer medications like naltrexone, which can help some people relearn to drink moderately—even in high pressure situations like St. Paddy’s Day.