Ah – St. Patrick’s Day — How Can You Still Enjoy the Festivities While in Recovery?

Ah - St. Patrick's Day -- How Can You Still Enjoy the Festivities While in Recovery Pathfinders Recovery Center - A green background with a wet four leaf clover lying on it to symbolize the celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

Celebrate Differently

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.

Ah - St. Patrick's Day -- How Can You Still Enjoy the Festivities While in Recovery Pathfinders Recovery Center - A green background with a wet four leaf clover lying on it to symbolize the celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

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.

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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.”

 

Ah - St. Patrick's Day -- How Can You Still Enjoy the Festivities While in Recovery Pathfinders Recovery Center - A group of individuals in recovery meets with an addiction therapist and their support group to offer advice to one another on how to celebrate St. Patrick's Day without risking their sobriety.

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.

How Can You Get Sober From Drugs?

How to Sober Up From Drugs

If you are addicted to illegal or prescription substances, you must know how to sober up from drugs.

That is the only way to get your life back on track and avoid severe or even fatal problems.

Even if you are not addicted, you may need help getter sober.

Why? Non-addicted drug abuse can also have a serious, negative effect on your life.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to sober up from drugs.

Professionals ranging from your personal doctor to addiction specialists have the knowledge needed to help.

With their guidance, you can regain your sobriety no matter how badly addiction affects you.

How Can You Get Sober From Drugs in a Safe Way? - Pathfinders - A man is shooting up heroin while he thinks about how you can get sober from drugs in a safe environment.

Drug Use and Drug Problems

Tens of millions of Americans use potentially addictive prescription medications. Most of these people follow their prescriptions and avoid problems. However, more than 16 million Americans misuse their medications. You can misuse a medication by taking it too often or in excessive amounts. You also take part in prescription drug misuse if you do things such as:

  • Use someone else’s medication
  • Crush you medication or do other things to speed up its effects

You are at risk for serious problems if you take any amount of an addictive street drug. Marijuana is the most common of these substances, even though this drug is now often legal to use. Other widely used street drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

If you are addicted to a prescription drug or street drug, you have a substance use disorder, or SUD. There are subtypes of SUD for each major drug category. For example, people addicted to amphetamines, methamphetamine or cocaine have a stimulant use disorder.

You can also be diagnosed with an SUD if you are not addicted. How is this possible? Even non-addicted drug abuse can seriously interfere with your ability to function. For this reason, such life-altering abuse is included in the substance use disorder definition

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Can You Tell If You Need Help

Is it possible to tell when you need to start thinking about how to sober up from drugs? Very often, the answer to this question is yes. You should certainly think about your drug use if you misuse an addictive prescription medication. You should also be concerned if you are involved in the use of addictive street drugs.

When doctors diagnose an SUD, they look for signs of addiction such as:

  • Loss of control over how often you use drugs, or how much you take
  • Reduced sensitivity to the effects of any given amount of drugs
  • Withdrawal symptoms that start if you cut back on drugs or stop taking them
  • A lifestyle built around drug use or related activities
  • Not being able to quit taking drugs after multiple attempts to break free

Signs of serious drug abuse include:

  • Going through social or relationship problems as a result of your drug use
  • Using drugs multiple times while doing something dangerous like driving
  • Taking enough drugs to be unable to keep up with your major obligations

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How to Sober Up From Drugs: First Steps

If you are wondering how to sober up from drugs, a common first step is talking to your personal physician. Today, many of these primary doctors have been trained to give drug screenings. Screenings serve several main purposes, including:

  • Assessing your level and pattern of drug use
  • Helping to determine whether you have an SUD
  • Determining how bad your symptoms are if an SUD is present
  • Helping your doctor guide you to the right resources for treatment

If you do not already have an SUD, you doctor may give you a brief intervention. That is the term for a short educational session about the dangers of your drug misuse. This session is designed to help you change and avoid developing diagnosable problems.

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How to Sober Up From Drugs: Drug Detox

If you have an SUD, you may need to enroll in drug detox, or detoxification, in order to get sober. Why? Detox provides a secure environment for people affected by addiction to stop using drugs. It also provides the medical expertise needed to safely make it through drug withdrawal.

What happens during detox? That depends on the drug or medication you are addicted to. There are specific detoxification options for substances such as:

  • A stimulant such as methamphetamine or cocaine
  • An opioid medication or street drug
  • An addictive tranquilizer or sedative

Everyone enrolled in a detox program receives care designed to keep them as healthy as possible. Some people also receive medication while going through the detox process.

How Can You Get Sober From Drugs in a Safe Way? - Pathfinders - An addiction therapist is comforting a patient who is looking for how you can get sober from drugs in a medical detox.

How to Sober Up From Drugs: Active Treatment

Completion of detox will leave you drug-free. However, this initial sobriety is not enough. To have a realistic chance at lasting sobriety, you must continue on to active drug rehab. Rehab helps you stay sober while you are still enrolled in treatment. It also teaches you techniques to remain sober once treatment comes to an end. Medication may be used as part of your rehab plan. Even if you do not receive medication, you will get crucial help from therapy or counseling.

What kinds of therapy will help you learn how to get sober from drugs and stay sober? Many options are available, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Family Behavior Therapy
  • Community Reinforcement
  • Contingency Management
  • 12-Step Facilitation

Your treatment team will match your therapy to your particular form of SUD.

 

Joining a Mutual Self-Help Group

It is common to join a mutual self-help group while still enrolled in rehab. In fact, the purpose of 12-step facilitation is to prepare you to join this kind of group. Self-help groups are beneficial because they allow you to establish peer relationships with others in recovery. These relationships provide extensive support for your long-term commitment to sobriety.

 

How To Sober Up From Drugs: Continuing Care or Aftercare

In detox and active treatment, you learn how to sober up from drugs. But this is not the end of your battle. You must also take appropriate steps to remain sober. A mutual self-help group will be a big plus. However, experts also recommend some form of continuing care or aftercare. This is the name for a follow-up program that gives you continued access to professional treatment. Continuing care will help you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life without returning to drug use.

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Learn More About How To Sober Up From Drugs

Learning how to get sober from drugs can be a major turning point in your life. In contrast, if you do not learn how to do this, you may find yourself trapped in addiction’s powerful grip. If you suspect that your drug use has gotten out of hand, today is the day to get help. Together, your primary doctor and addiction specialists will help you recover from even severe drug-related problems.

Have questions about how to sober up from drugs? Just turn to the professionals at Pathfinders. Our experienced staff will help you sort out exactly what you need to do to get started. And if you need to enroll in a drug treatment program, Pathfinders is standing by. No matter what kind of substance you are addicted to, you will find what you need in our full range of treatment services.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States – Results From the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health; Pages 15 and 20

https://www.campusdrugprevention.gov/sites/default/files/2019%20NSDUH.pdf

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Prescription Drug Misuse

https://medlineplus.gov/prescriptiondrugmisuse.html

American Psychiatric Association: What Is a Substance Use Disorder?

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians – Chapter 2: Screening for Substance Use Disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64820/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians – Chapter 3: Brief Intervention

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64821/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment – Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64116/#A85631

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment – A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition); Pages 39 -65

https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/podat_1.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64116/#A85631

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment: Continuing Care – What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2670779/

Dating While Not Sober

Dating While Not Sober Pathfinders Recovery Center - A couple is recovery is no longer sober together as they binge drink beer at a restaurant, while the man has his head on the table.

Let’s talk about dating while not sober first.

I have plenty of experience.

I only had two relationships when I was sober.

One was my first boyfriend in high school.

The second is my current relationship.

The span in between was relationship after relationship founded on alcohol or other drugs.

As you probably know, you do not make the same decisions under the influence that you do while sober.

For me, that meant dating many people that I had nothing in common with except for alcohol.

I dated people that irritated me when I was sober.

Part of that irritation was due to a hangover.

But not all of it. I was often sober during the week.

I was the kind of drunk you would label as a “weekend warrior.”

A large part of it was that I did not like the person I had a relationship with.

Most importantly, you need to like yourself, and I did not for a long time.

It is essential to realize the mistakes you have made and learn from them.

People teach us lessons about ourselves.

Dating While Not Sober Pathfinders Recovery Center - A couple that relapsed and are now dating while not sober are arguing after they have indugled in quite a large amount of alcohol.

The Cheater

I still need to forgive myself for some of the harmful, hurtful people I let into my life.

One of the worst was a guy who ended up living with me for about six months. I met him through mutual drinking friends. He knew I had feelings for him, and he completely took advantage of that. He was sleeping with me the entire time while sleeping with at least two other women.

I was suspicious, but I was not one to snoop. I believed that if you trust someone, you should not snoop. When I did become suspicious, I felt bad kicking him out because he had a kid.

For him to have custody, he needed a place for his kid to come to safely. He was broke, so he could not afford an apartment.

I was getting more and more to the point where I wanted him out. I needed proof other than my gut feeling that something was off. He often used one of my old laptops. I got it out and logged onto Facebook. I did not have a Facebook account at that time, so his profile popped up right away. I decided to check his messages. The first thing I saw was all these messages to his new girlfriend, Katya.

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Starting to Wake Up

I was going to kick him to the curb.

But first, I was going to tell his new girlfriend who I was and what was going on. I reactivated my Facebook account, logged in, and emailed her immediately. She responded by chat. She said, “I can’t believe he would do this after saying he is in love with me and blah blah blah.” He said these same things to me at one point. Then, the conversation took a surprising turn. Katya informed me that another woman had reached out to her a week earlier, accusing him of cheating as well.

Katya also enlightened me that he said he hated my dog. If you knew my dog, you would think he was the biggest jerk to have ever walked this Earth. Trust me on this. Who could not love a pudgy, chill, and blue and white chihuahua? He is a rock star. So, to think this three-timing, no good, son of a… was taking advantage of me.

As I was chatting with her via messaging, I moved all of his stuff into the back hallway. I texted him to let him know his stuff was outback. His text back was something weird like, “Let’s have this out in person.” I had zero need to see him in person. There is nothing to discuss in this case. Trust me. I did see him one last time getting the stuff out of the back hallway. I had changed the locks after he left.

But, I still needed to get Katya’s keys from him to give her. I opened the back door and what I saw was the saddest, tall man with tears streaming down his eyes. He was like a kid caught with his hand in the candy jar. I almost felt sorry for him. But I could not. I told him he was pathetic and got Katya’s keys and slammed the door shut. Some people say that closure does not exist. I would say the moment where I shut the door in his face was the best closure I have ever experienced.

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Dating While Sober

I started to become aware of something after an experience with a cheater. I was grasping again at love. Grasping meant going through the same harmful patterns again and again. I was beginning to feel exhausted. I would never find someone real until I started to find myself.

Things did not change for me overnight. It took time and practice. The last two people I dated before I met my current partner were steppingstones. One was a realization that I did not want to date people who did drugs anymore. This person did, and I broke up with him. It felt good. It was the first time I thought about myself rather than the other person. Then, I met another person.
We drank the first few times we hung out and started dating. We also lived in different countries. We did a long-distance relationship, and then I moved to his country for a while. I was always irritated with him, even right before I left to go live with him.

I had barely seen him and almost broken up with him. The romantic version of myself that wanted to live in another country won over. It was a disaster. I was only there five months and left, for good.

 

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Dating While Not Sober Pathfinders Recovery Center - A couple is meeting with an addiction counselor to determine how to get back on the road to recovery after relapsing and now dating while not sober.

Sober Dating

After returning to the United States, I decided I needed more change to avoid making bad decisions. I decided to get sober. I was not drinking much, only once a week. But clearly, that was too much for me to get my life in order.

Around that time, I also lost my job. The rain came pouring down.
But my mentor Father Michael Pfleger says, “Storms run out of rain.” I walked through the storm of life on my own for a while. I was applying to jobs, deciding where to live, and taking care of myself. Every day, I would go on a walk. Life was simple. For the first time, I enjoyed the lack of excitement.

Constant moving and feeling like I had to prove something to someone were exhausting. I did not feel like moving at a fast pace anymore. I wanted to take the time to think things through.

I decided to work for a relative’s company while I was applying for jobs. The job was in New England. A small rural town. It sounded exactly like what I needed. The city had always triggered me to continue these negative patterns I was trying to quit. I did break loose.

I started to live a sober life. While sober, I had the control to say no to people I did not desire. Dating while sober meant taking care of myself and not going with an idea that did not serve my higher self. It did not mean that rejection did not hurt. I was able to handle it better and know that the feeling would pass.

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Love Yourself First

I started to put time into hobbies.

I put time into taking care of my body by exercising.

I read all the time.

I learned guitar.

I went on hikes and felt nature healing me.

I decided to stay.

It was only six months until I met my current partner.

We met through an event.

We began a sober relationship.

We hung out and got to know one another.

We had a lot in common.

I learned after months of dating that I enjoyed being around this person.

It did not happen overnight.

But because I was sober, I enjoyed the process at my own pace and moved forward as I felt.

We are still together; it will be two years in March 2021.

Dating sober is more about finding yourself than anything.

No matter who comes into your life, you will attract the person you deserve if you avoid dating while not sober.

A person who will honor you — rather than who you pretend to be while chugging your Miller High Life.

It is not that you will not have bad dates.

You will understand that they are a part of life, a passing moment like every other moment.

It will all be worth it to know yourself, to love yourself.

There is no love more important than the love you have for yourself.

No partner can fulfill that.