Holidays are a time for laughter, cheer, and celebration amongst friends and family. Most of us find ways to celebrate by attending parties, dressing up in holiday appropriate attire, eating delicious food, and enjoying the company of loved ones around us.

Unfortunately, most holidays are also a time for many people to indulge in alcoholic beverages. Certain holidays, such as the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, are mistakenly based entirely on the premise that one has to be drunk to truly celebrate it. For the newly sober person, this can be quite the challenge as they are trying to navigate through the early stages of a new type of lifestyle. So the question becomes, how can the newly sober person enjoy a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, but maintain their sobriety? Here are some tricks and tips that can help

Tip #1: Avoid parties that will be a trigger. There are two types of drinking parties. There are the ones where alcohol is included, but it is not the focus of the party itself. Guests may casually drink a few drinks, but it is not the type of environment that is acceptable for heavy drinking. Then there are the types of parties where drinking heavily is the main objective.

Both parties may not be suitable for the newly sober person to attend, but if drinking is the main objective at a party, it is definitely not wise to be a part of. Not only will there be temptations all around, but also, even if one abstains from alcohol, they may feel depressed and out of place since they are one of the only sober ones. If one must attend a drinking party because they’ve made an obligation to, bring a sober friend along to provide support and comradery.

Tip #2: Try to attend sober parties. Many times those in Alcoholics Anonymous will throw fun St. Patrick’s Day parties, or have marathon meetings with food and beverages for those who want to socialize during the holiday, but stay in a safe environment. If a newly sober person doesn’t feel comfortable attending a party where drinking will be present, it’s best to see if someone at the local AA chapter is throwing a St. Patrick’s Day Party.

If not, it’s always a great idea to throw a party yourself. Invite some sober friends or family members who understand the situation and plan a great party that includes everything except alcohol. Irish food is absolutely delicious, and nobody will want to pass up coming to a party where potatoes and corn beef are on the menu.

Throwing a party is a great way to distract oneself from other people drinking, which can cause feelings like resentment and frustration, and have a great sober memory to hang on to. It’s always nice to remind oneself that having fun in sobriety is not only possible-it’s inevitable!

Tip #3: Go to a meeting. If there’s not enough time to plan a party, or there isn’t one that the newly sober person feels comfortable attending, don’t’ stay in the house and wallow in resentment and misery. Meetings are available throughout the holidays since holidays can often be a trigger for the addict or alcoholic. Find a meeting or two to attend and concentrate on what’s truly important. St. Patrick’s Day is one day out of the year; it isn’t a month long event that one needs to hide from. Before you know it, the holiday will be over and life will resume as normal.

Be honest at the meeting about the frustrations and fears that involve staying sober on the holidays. The worst thing someone can do is pretend that none of it is a big deal. Grieve and cry if you must. But remember to look on the bright side. In a year or two, being sober during the holidays will not be abnormal, but will be a way of life. There will be times again when the newly sober person can be around casual drinking and will not be tempted, angry, or frustrated.

Tip #4: Remember that not everyone in the world is drinking. When a newly sober person has to get through a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, they often feel completely isolated from the rest of the world. They may feel like they don’t fit in with the culture around them, and that there’s something inherently abnormal about being sober during the holidays. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, many people drink heavily, or drink casually during the holidays, but not everybody does. Many people who don’t even have a problem with alcohol or drugs stay sober on holidays because they don’t enjoy drinking and don’t care to get drunk. Many people have children they have to tend to, and don’t have the energy or time to go out to fancy parties with friends. Some people choose to stay in and watch movies or read a good book instead of going out.

The point is that there is an entire type of lifestyle out there that doesn’t involve drinking and drug use. The older someone is, the more likely it is to find other people who enjoy a sober way of living. If the newly sober person is in their twenties or early thirties, they often think that everyone else is going out and getting drunk and having a great time with friends. But this isn’t the case. Many people don’t enjoy participating in that type of lifestyle, and purposely stay away from it. You aren’t alone.

Tip #5: Recall the reasons for getting sober in the first place. When a lot of people are getting drunk during the holidays, it is easy to romanticize drinking and forget the way it actually affected the recovering addict or alcoholic. The fact of the matter is that recovering addicts and alcoholics got sober for a reason. One may think they are “missing out” on the “fun” by staying sober during the holidays, but if they truly are honest with themselves, they will remember that drinking long ago stopped being fun in any way.

The way a few drinks may affect a normal drinker is not the way drinking affects an alcoholic. So if a newly sober person starts romanticizing the act of drinking, they should remind themselves that there is way more fun to be found in sobriety than drinking. Drinking doesn’t work for them the way it may work for non-alcoholics and addicts.

Tip #6: Stay positive and have a great St. Patrick’s Day. Keep a positive attitude about sobriety and be proud of yourself for getting through a rough day and still having a good time regardless. Reward yourself with an extra heaping of potatoes, cabbage, and corn beef-you made it! Soon, staying sober on holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day will be like second-nature. There will be many fun memories to make in the future during holidays. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Contact representative Linda Rose at Footprints Behavioral Health at 949-558-4723.  Start planning your road map to recovery today.