St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and, for most everyone in recovery, there are various levels of celebrating. You’re either sitting it out at home, participating by wearing something green, or holding up a mug of plain ginger ale so the normies can stop asking you “Where’s your drink?” already. However, for some, this alcohol-ridden holiday brings about thoughts of indulgence. In the same way a person on a diet might decide to call it quits amid a glorious Thanksgiving spread, there are those in recovery who think they can consume alcohol because it’s a special occasion that seemingly requires that sort of participation.
If this applies to you, let me be the first to remind you of three things:
1. Addiction Is a Disease, Not a Choice
Where dieting is a choice and therefore can easily be restarted the following Monday, addiction is a disease. As such, if Aunt Mary decides to have a slice of pie, there’s no real harm done. She can walk off the added calories and resume her diet the next day. However, if you decide to partake in the bubbly, you are in relapse and will likely find yourself restarting the active addiction cycle, or landing in the emergency room or possibly even in jail.
2. Recovery Requires Abstinence
If you are in recovery for addiction, you are (by definition) abstaining from substances. This, of course, includes a drop of champagne, beer or anything that alters your state of mind. There’s no such thing as “It’s just beer!” or “Just a little bit won’t hurt!” As a matter of fact, it’s this same train of thought that tends to snowball into a full weekend bender. The concept of having even one sip went out when addiction—chemical dependency—walked in. As such, the idea of having just one is gone. In fact, if you were capable of that, you wouldn’t be an addict in the first place.
3. You Are More Special Than Any Occasion
Keep in mind that, when it comes to recovery from active addiction, your life is at stake. Therefore, to consume alcohol is to risk your life. To do so simply because a special occasion crops up is to act as if your life is worth less than the nostalgia of the day. Instead, consider celebrating your life, sobriety and holistic recovery with an alcohol-free beverage of your choice, rather than risking all of the above for a brief head change. Create your own tradition or simply roll with the sparkling alcohol-free drinks. But, by all means, respect, honor and love yourself enough to stay sober. After all, your life is indeed more special than any occasion.
If the thought of partaking in alcohol-laden celebrations cross your mind, don’t beat yourself up. It’s a normal thought that pops in for most anyone in recovery, especially around a holiday. But, do take steps to ensure the thought doesn’t multiply enough that it springs you into action. During these times, contact your sponsor or someone in your recovery community to hold you accountable and support you through the day. And if you find that such times cause you to fall into relapse regularly, it may be beneficial to think about longer-term professional assistance.