For those in recovery or abstaining from alcohol and drugs, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as with any other publicly celebrated holiday, can be challenging. There is a tendency for many in our culture to view these days as a way to drink and drug excessively. There are several ways one who wishes to stay clean and sober on St. Patrick’s can be successful.

Consider these SOBER ACTIONS on St. Patrick’s Day.

There is a saying or two in 12 Step recovery programs that can easily be applied to a day when friends, co-workers, and family may be indulging or overindulging.

  1.  Just for today, I will refrain from a drink or a drug
  2. Just because I want a drink does not mean I have to drink or drug
  3. Think it through
  4. Call someone and tell on yourself (your desire to drink)
  5. Do something to help another person

Let’s explore each sober action for St. Patrick’s Day.

Just for today.

In the rooms of AA and NA, there is an overriding concept that can help a person struggling: I can do anything for a day. If you apply this thought on St. Patrick’s Day, you are choosing to stay sober for a specific length of time. When a goal is reduced to a manageable time frame, it is easier to accomplish. It can be remembered using the

SMART principle:

S – Specific – Is it focused and unambiguous?

M – Measurable – Could someone determine whether or not you achieved it?

A – Action-oriented – Did you specify the action you will take?

R – Realistic – Considering difficulty and timeframe, is it attainable?

T – Time-bound – Did you specify a deadline?

Apply the SMART principle to Just for Today and the achievability of that goal is manageable. Do not overwhelm yourself with a more significant promise.

Just because I want to drink does not mean I have to drink or drug.

Sobriety is not just about fulfilling our desires. It is about learning to take care of one’s self in healthy, life-affirming ways. Positive behavior is a self-esteem-able action. Choosing to stay sober on St. Patrick’s Day builds one’s ability to self-regulate.

“Self-regulation depicts the self as an active controller…Most personal and social problems that plague modern society have some degree of self-regulation failure at their core. These include addiction and alcoholism, obesity and binge eating, anger management, and other emotional control problems.

Think it Through

This action can be a lifesaver, especially if one’s desire to drink is strong. By the time an addict or alcoholic has arrived at the struggle to stop drinking or drugging, he or she has had a moment or more of clarity and has realized that substance abuse has interfered with healthy relationships, destroyed careers, and/or personal health.

The concept behind  Think it through is clear. Before picking up a drink or a drug, take a moment to ask what is the reason I want to drink or drug? Am I trying to escape my reality? How will the drink or the drug improve my life when I stop? What can I lose by picking up a drink or a drug now? What will I gain in my life by using or drinking?

Call Someone and Tell on Yourself (your desire to drink or drug)

For sobriety, secrets can be devastating. Secrets about one’s feelings can lead to shame, guilt, anxiety, anger and a host of other negative emotions. These feelings can be triggers to use. However, if an addict or alcoholic admits to a trusted, understanding support that there is a desire to use or drink, there then exists the opportunity to work it through without picking up or relapsing.

Indeed, such discussions take on the dynamic of Think it Through. Talking about personal secrets reduces their strength over a person and weakens the thought process driving someone toward negative behavior. It also gives someone else the ability to reflect back to the addict what is perceived from the outside.

Addicts and alcoholics, for a variety of reasons, can have a distorted sense of self. Feedback from another can help alter the negative perceptions of self or short-circuit the negative impulses to act out.

Do Something to Help Another Person

If an addict or alcoholic is seriously thinking of using, it is often suggested that he or she do service. The act of helping alters the focus on self. Service can fight negative thoughts because of the focus of the mind shifts. Research has proven time, and again the service can improve one’s sense of self, promote communication skills, strengthen one’s sense of belonging, and build resiliency to destructive behaviors.

Of course, all of these strategies can be used daily regardless of whether there is a holiday approaching. There are many coping skills one can apply during holiday festivities that can save an addict or alcoholic from relapsing. However, should you need more help, a licensed treatment facility is always a good place to turn to stop the downward spiral of addiction.