Why is St. Patrick’s Day Such a Big Drinking Day?
History, Statistics, And Tips To Help You Stay Sober This St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s day is nationally considered the 4th biggest drinking holiday in the country (behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and the Fourth of July). Here in Massachusetts, there’s a strong argument to be made that it is the biggest drinking holiday in the Commonwealth. Some might argue that the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the biggest, but that generally applies to the younger crowd who are back in town after moving away or going to college and Patriots Day partying is usually done by dinner time.
But walk into any local pub (*in a non-pandemic year) on St. Paddy’s day, and you’ll see people of all ages drinking from the minute the bar staff opens the doors until the last pint of Guinness is poured at closing time. There’s music, dancing, and generally a good time for all.
Regardless of where St. Patrick’s Day falls on the list, for many people with substance abuse issues, everything about St. Patrick’s day can be a dangerous trigger. Most alcoholics don’t need an excuse to drink and often refer to those who indulge on St. Patrick’s Day as “rookies.” The holiday provides a ‘respectable’ opportunity to drink/over-drink, and the rowdy nature of the event can cover up bad behavior or relapse that might otherwise set off red flags on a Weekday any other time of the year.
Some Sobering St. Patrick’s Day Statistics on Drinking
For every fun statistic like “The city of Chicago uses 50 lbs. of powdered dye to turn the river green”, there are several more that point to the darker side of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, particularly when it comes to drinking.
It’s a Day of Poor Decisions and Excess
Statistics show that Binge drinking increases the likelihood of poor decision-making.
- St. Patrick’s Day is the biggest day of the year where high school & college students start binge drinking, per a Brown University study.
- The average American will drink about 3x as much as on St. Patrick’s Day than they would on a normal day.
- The average American will also spend about 50% of their average monthly expense on alcohol in just one day.
- Nearly 1/3 of all pedestrians killed on St. Patrick’s Day have a BAC above .08 (the legal limit in MA).
It’s A Dangerous Day To Be In A Car
- According to the NTSB study in 2018, on average, someone dies every 30 minutes from an alcohol-related car crash on St. Patrick’s Day.
- In the hours between midnight and 6 AM following St. Patrick’s day, there are 269 drunk driving deaths.
- 75% of all drivers in fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day are at least 2 times over the legal limit.
Why is St. Patrick’s Day a Big Drinking Day?
The driving force behind St. Patrick’s Day being a drinking holiday is because it falls in the middle of the Christian period of Lent, where traditionally Catholics would abstain from drinking (among other things.) The Irish, however, were granted a reprieve from the Lenten fast on this one day to celebrate St. Patrick’s Birthday.
One of the main reasons St. Patrick’s day can be so dangerous is because locally here in MA, it’s very ingrained in our culture and has been for centuries.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “It was emigrants, particularly to the United States, who transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of revelry and celebration of things Irish. Cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants, who often wielded political power, staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades.”
Boston led the way with its first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 1737, followed by New York City in 1762. So, if you’re looking to stay sober, you’re up against nearly 300 years of tradition. That’s 4 decades longer than the 4th of July. Only Thanksgiving has been around longer in the U.S. The parties really got in full swing in the 1840s when Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine in huge numbers came ashore up and down the east coast.
But you don’t need to walk into a bar to be inundated with St. Patrick’s culture. In non-Covid years, the Southie Parade and Political Breakfast dominate the local news, and everyone from school kids to seniors in nursing homes is wearing green and waving shamrocks.
What You Can Do to Stay Sober on St. Patrick’s Day
Like every other day, there is no magic bullet. Staying sober takes work and planning. Here are a few suggestions that may work for you.
Get Your Support System Fired up and Ready
Talk to family members, supportive friends and let them know you’re concerned. If you have other sober friends or those in recovery, find out what they are doing, and hold each other accountable.
Host a Sober Party
With social distancing restrictions starting to be removed, it is possible to have a small gathering of friends at your place for a sober St. Patrick’s Day party. You can cook traditional Irish food, watch Boondock Saints, live stream the Drop Kick Murphys, or learn to knit Irish sweaters. Whatever keeps you busy, happy, and in good company.
Join a Local Sober Event
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of planning your own event, but you’re longing for some social interaction, Google “Sober St. Patrick’s Day Events.” In normal years, most cities will host regular sober events. But even during the Pandemic, there are still options (mostly outdoors). Whether you go alone or with others, these events can be an opportunity to expand your circle of sober friends.
Celebrate the Religious Holiday
According to Crisis Magazine, (which bills itself as “A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity”,) “ Historically in Ireland, the day had religion at its heart. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, requiring Mass attendance… Evidence of the national solemnity on St. Patrick’s Day could be seen in the requirement that public houses (i.e., bars and taverns) be closed (just as on Good Friday and Christmas Day).” You can take part in this more spiritual side of the day by attending or streaming St. Patrick’s Day Mass at your local parish.
Plan an Exit Strategy
As mentioned above, the easiest way to have a sober St. Patrick’s Day is to avoid places where there will be drinking and partying. But for many of us, this may not be possible. Family gatherings and other social obligations may put you in a tough situation.
Many experts recommend that you rely on the strategies you’ve learned in recovery. One of the most important is practicing saying “no.” Being prepared to respond if offered a drink makes it easier to avoid the temptation in the spur-of-the-moment. Keeping a non-alcoholic beverage in your hands may also help but knowing there’s somewhere else to go and someone who can go with you can make it a lot easier.
Where Can I Get Help to Quit Drinking?
Big events like holidays are often the time that people either recognize the need for help, in themselves or in their friends and family. For many, it’s the first time they have admitted that they need help; for others, it’s another relapse. No matter what your situation may be, Topsail Addiction Treatment is here to get you back on the right track. Our team is caring, compassionate, and competent, and our facilities and programs are top-notch. Call 978-475-0002 at any hour of the day or night and talk to one of our addiction treatment professionals who can help you get started on your journey to recovery.
Get Started with Addiction Treatment This Winter
There is no better time than the present to get started. Beginning a program today could have you back in control of your life this summer. At Topsail Addiction Treatment, we have the staff, facilities, programs, and experience to help you overcome your addictions. We have created a safe, comfortable, and convenient place where you can work on your sobriety.
Convenient Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts
Our facility in Andover, MA, is easy to get to and convenient to Route 128, Route 495, Route 95, and Route 93. Topsail offers a private and tranquil environment to work through your substance abuse challenges.
If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey to recover, call 978-475-0002 24 hours a day and talk to one of our caring and professional addiction team.
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