How to Stay Sober on St. Patrick’s Day When Everyone around You Is Drinking

Above all other holidays in American culture, St. Patrick’s Day can be the one most associated with drinking. Entire cities band together to dye their alcoholic beverages green and happily overindulge until they cannot remember the day at all.

In fact, there are very few things that happen on St. Patrick’s Day that do not involve drinking, so if you are sober, it is almost impossible to avoid running into people who are under the influence and trying to ply you with alcohol, especially if you are surrounding by firefighters all day.

So how do you stay sober on this drinking holiday?

  • Stay home. You do have the option. There is no law that says you have to leave the safety of your house on St. Patrick’s Day, or head down to the firehouse or over to another firefighter’s house if you know people are drinking there. This is especially true if you are in your first few days of recovery and most of the people in your life do not realize that you are now sober. If you do opt to spend the day alone, however, do not isolate. Invite any sober friends that you have over — even if you’ve just met them — and get the support you need to stay sober.
  • Stay out of the bars. This is a good rule of thumb at any point in your recovery, especially if you are feeling vulnerable and close to relapse, but it is especially true on days like St. Patrick’s Day when the bars are packed to overflowing with drunk revelers.
  • Go to the parade. If you live in a city that really makes a big deal about St. Patrick’s Day, go and watch the parade or drive to the one that is closest to you. Because you will likely run into people who are under the influence even at this family-friendly venue, it is a good idea to bring a sober friend or two with you.
  • Go green. Yes, you can make some environmentally positive choices on St. Patrick’s Day if you like — it’s never a bad day for that — but you can also get into the whole color aspect of the holiday if you like. Costume yourself in a green shirt, a green hat, or even some green face paint, especially if you’re going to a parade or Irish festival.
  • Eat corned beef and cabbage. It is an Irish American tradition to eat a big slab of salty corned beef and sautéed cabbage with boiled red potatoes as your main meal on St. Patrick’s Day. Make these staples your own and come up with some interesting recipes that suit your taste, or just dye your favorite food and drinks green and have some fun with your meal.
  • Binge on anything Irish. Grab a book of Irish folk tales and spend the day reading, or binge watch documentaries on the history of the island or travel documentaries that let you explore the countryside, castles, and cities of Ireland.

How will you spend your sober St. Patrick’s Day this year?

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