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happy st. patrick's day
March 14, 2019

How to Safely Have Fun on St. Patrick’s Day In Sobriety


It seems like just about every holiday, at least if your an alcoholic or addict, is a perfect excuse to get good and messed up. During our first year of sobriety, they can often become a day where we mourn the past, feel a little squirrelly, and maybe for the first time, miss our family.

Re-learning how to celebrate holidays can be an emotional and tumultuous time in early sobriety, but what about St. Patrick’s day? Other than devout Irish Catholics, everybody else just uses the day to get blackout drunk and wear green. So how can you enjoy the holiday while sticking to your sobriety?

The easiest method; avoid the scene!

Do Something More Productive

If we are being honest here, I think it’s safe to admit that most people aren’t celebrating Saint Patrick, who converted the island to Christianity. They are celebrating booze. It compares to how we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Ireland doesn’t really celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and Mexicans don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We just use it as an excuse to get hammered.

That being said, is it really that important that we feel the need to celebrate the holiday? If you are an Irish Catholic and enjoy the church, by all means, go to church. For everyone else, find something else to do. Here is a long list of other, just as fun and not sobriety threatening options to do instead of joining in on the parade or accidentally going out for lunch where a bar crawl is taking place.

Celebrate Green, outside!

Go on a hike, have a picnic in the park if it’s warm enough, do something outside, in the fresh air, away from the busy city streets. Go enjoy the green through the earth. Live near the beach? Gather a bunch of friends for a game of volleyball. Rent a bike for the day. Go pick up trash! Anything besides being around the drunken chaos of the normal folks and those who haven’t figured out that they might benefit from how you’re living your life.

Check out Any Sober Events Going On

My local Young People chapter has organized a St. Patricks Day potluck, with speakers, raffles, prizes, a dance party, and pieing people in the face. They are bringing in a speaker from the other side of the country to come share their story, and they are having meetings every other hour. If you are looking for something to do, and have something like this going on in your town, go check it out! Events like these are a great way to get connected to some strong young sober people, to get commitments, and to forget about the chaos going on downtown.

Have a Friends Day

If you live at a house that allows people over, throw a bbq! Get all your new friends together and play lawn games. You can buy a cheap frisbee at just about any dollar store, make up a new game with it. Play Cards Against Humanity or charades. Get the music going, the snacks a plenty, and celebrate your sobriety while everyone else is out getting arrested or DUI’s or felt up at a bar because they’ve had too much to drink. I promise, your day will be much more memorable than those celebrating at the bar.

woman celebrating st. patrick's day

Go to a MEETING

Hey now who would have thought? Any time we are feeling squirrelly, or like we are missing out on all of the “fun”, the best course of action, after calling our sponsor, is to hit a meeting. Switch it up and go to one you haven’t been to before. Make some new friends or bring your own. Get breakfast or lunch, too! Spend the day with people who want sobriety, and you’ll remember why you want it too.

Try Something You Haven’t Done Before

What better excuse to go check out that rock climbing gym, or go to an ice rink, or to do whatever the heck it is you’ve been wanting to try than on a day where you USED to be completely focused on getting as drunk as possible. Use the uneasy feelings you may have to try something new and prove to yourself that you still got it. Whether it be taking a pottery class or putting on rollerblades and headphones. I don’t know what you’re into, but neither do you if you never try!

Go to the Movies

I don’t care what anyone says, I hate crowds, so any excuse to be as far away from the chaos of a St. Patty’s Day parade is what I’m looking for. My perfect Sunday is staying in sweats for as long as I can, eating good snacks, and watching a movie. Other than my couch, there is no better place to do this than at the movie theatre. Grab some friends, hit an early meeting, grab lunch, grab more snacks to put into your pockets and go see a matinee. There are a bunch of good movies out this weekend!

The Reality

During my first year of sobriety, I waitressed on a busy strip of downtown, where all of the parades and holiday festivities would take place. Most of the year, it was good money and the people were pretty easy going. There was one holiday that every restaurant employee dreaded. You guessed it, St. Patrick’s Day.  

When you’re drinking, you’re popping in and out of the bars, getting hammered, making a mess, missing the toilet, and probably getting into or watching at least one fight break out. Once you’re sober and surrounded by this crowd, it is a stark view into just how annoying I used to be. The high-pitched drunk women who shout to talk, the slurred conversations where no one knows what they are talking about, people looking for their lost friend, everyone stumbling all over themselves, people puking into receptacles that should definitely not be puked in. It’s not fun anymore.

In early sobriety, we often grieve our inability to join the rest of the crowd, but that first St. Patrick’s day I celebrated sober and waitressing during a bar crawl, I made a vow to never put myself into such a horrible situation again. I was felt up by countless drunken men, I had beer spilled on me about twenty times, and when it was all said and done, all I could smell was that old, warm, spilled beer smell that reminded me of mornings I definitely didn’t want to remember.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t dwell on what you are “missing”, but celebrate what you now have. The friends, the connection, the purpose. Celebrate a real miracle today. Celebrate you! Without getting drunk.