When I entered recovery at Pathfinders, my idea of celebration, especially for St. Patrick’s Day, changed drastically.
Each holiday that comes up on the calendar seemed like an occasion to relapse, especially for well-known drinking holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day.
When I was newly sober I looked at each holiday as a battle.
I had to prepare myself accordingly and put in extra effort to keep myself in check.
The alcohol treatment program at Pathfinders gave me a lot of tools, yet I still felt anxiety.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were especially tough for me during my first year. Even with my family going out of their way to not trigger me, I was still terrified of relapsing.
When I got through those particular holidays unscathed, I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief.
Then I remembered St. Patrick’s Day.
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I feel like St. Patrick’s Day is probably the one holiday all of us in recovery have to be careful of. Preventing a relapse on St. Patrick’s Day is almost like winning the lottery. When you see many people wandering through the streets intoxicated, it can be a massive trigger. I remember when the months switched from February to March, I became increasingly nervous.
All I could think about was my behavior the year before. I made a complete jerk out of myself, and it was one of the driving factors toward me getting sober a few months later. I did what everyone else does that day. I went from bar to bar consuming green beer in between shots of whiskey.
Learn More About How To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Sober
One thing I should mention is that I tended to be a mean drunk. I was one of those guys that you had to walk on eggshells around. I could be a lot of fun to drink with, but it didn’t take much for me to turn. I remember waking up the next day to text messages from two separate friends who were offended by my behavior.
I had made inappropriate comments about their significant others and had no memory of it. I thought they were being unreasonable. It wasn’t until months later that I started to take what people were telling me seriously. They all came up with the same conclusion. “Dude, you’re a horrible drunk.”
Talk it Out
So that next St. Patrick’s Day was scary for me. I stressed so much about what I was capable of doing. All I could think about was what could end up happening. Should I just lock myself in my house that day and not even go out? Should I check myself in somewhere? It was freaking me out. It got so bad that I considered relapsing weeks before St. Patrick’s Day just so I could get it out of the way and start all over.
I forgot all about the wonderful people around me who were there to help. One of the big things about recovery is talking things out. You have to talk about your feelings and let your temptations be known. Getting sober is in a lot of ways very much a group effort. Sometimes you are the one picking others up out of their despair, and sometimes you are the one that needs to be picked up.
The program at Pathfinders taught me that meetings are invaluable. The folks at Pathfinders have always been there to give me a hand. Sometimes I fail to recognize this. Even when you have a great team around you, you can still be pulled back into your previous thinking.
This year, I’ve tried hard to remind myself of what I have around me. I think about the people I would be letting down if I slip back into my old ways. I think about being a beacon for others. I don’t want to be a reason someone else has a relapse. I want to be the person you call. I try very hard to be positive for others, but I also understand I am fighting my own battle. You can be there for others, but you must always be there for yourself first.
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Finding the Right People
Pathfinders have done a wonderful job of setting me up with the right outlets. There are a lot of St. Patrick’s Day events that are specifically targeted at people in recovery, and they are not hard to find. First of all, the hotlines are your friend. A lot of sober hotlines now are 24/7, so you can reach out to someone whenever you feel the need. Not only do these hotlines provide a way for you to talk out your feelings, but they also provide you with resources and sober events local to you. These events are a great way to get out and socialize with like-minded people.
The more people I meet in recovery, the less alone I feel in the process. It almost always helps me to meet a new person going through this process. It reinforces to me that I’m a part of something bigger than myself. I plan on attending a couple of different sober parties on St. Patrick’s Day, and I have the same amount of enthusiasm for them as I used to have for the bars. I understand now that the sober version of me is so much more likable and approachable than the drunk version of me. It makes me feel a tremendous amount of confidence to be the best version of myself when I meet people. I also know that when I go to these sober events, I am meeting the new and improved versions of a lot of my peers.
It’s never a bad idea to be of service to other people. If you are comfortable being a designated driver for your friends who do drink, it can be a great help. Not only are you doing them a solid favor, but you are also preventing someone from getting behind the wheel drunk. You could be drastically altering the course of a lot of people’s evenings. I usually offer to be the DD whenever I know my friends may need it.
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Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it, but I always feel better about myself after the fact.
Whatever you decide to do on this holiday, keep in mind that being a help to others is an invaluable practice.
Being considerate goes a long way on the road to recovery.