Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sober people can have a great time on St. Patrick's Day. But most of us don't. Perhaps it's because the annual American-style day of the drunk tends to trigger memories in some of us, of times we were the ones spilling green beer, while slurring our speech.

For me, St. Paddy's is a day to remind everyone within the sound of my internet voice that a plan to not drink, is not the same as not drinking. Why does this matter?

Because if you planned to stay sober and did not. No reason, no excuse, no justification of how small a quantity you consumed during your slip, gives you the right to drive a car after drinking.

St. Patrick's Day traffic accident and fatality statistics are truly horrifying. And most of the victims are sober drivers and passengers whose lives are changed by somebody who thinks (s)he's just fine to drive.

You're not. You can call Typsy Tow in many cities. AAA wants you to get home safe. Uber and many taxi companies will give you a lift as well. Of course, these options presume that you were not planning on drinking. No guilt here. Just get home safe. If you have to pay for a cab, just think of the money you're saving not needing a lawyer, and tip well.

If for some reason you are planning on joining the party, make sure your designated sober driver is REALLY going to stay cold sober all day and night.

At Northstar Guides, the recovery management, mentoring, and monitoring service where I work, we see people on virtually every holiday break down, forget their plan for avoiding alcohol, and then ending up with at least guilt, and often legal troubles because they wanted to cover up their lapse by driving home.

Hint, if you drive INTO your garage, door and all, your family will know about your lapse and it will not be a small, reset and forget, tomorrow. True story.

A DUI can set back your sobriety plan because it adds legal, emotional and financial stress to your life, and because the legal system doesn't usually care much for non-step recovery programs. In other words, you may be attending 90 meetings in 90 days, knowing they don't work for you, because the judge's uncle got sober through AA in 1962.

All of these potential harms leave out two scenarios that can cause the most mayhem: you can drink, drive, and actually hurt someone. The guilt, fear, and self loathing will last.

Or, you might slide into your driveway, not having been caught committing a crime. A felony in most states. Your sober life plan is not helped by getting away from the accountability and consequences of your bad choice. You can restart your sober life right now but don't fool yourself into denying the lapse and your bad choices.

Slips happen. Lapses are especially hard to avoid on traditional drinking days. You can do it! Remember how far you've come and what you have to gain by keeping sober today. Use the tools you've learned from the recovery model you've used to get to now.  Hopefully you'll have success and celebrate the wonderful feeling of waking up on March 18 knowing that you didn't do something to embarrass yourself or harm others.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

1 comment:

  1. If you have alcohol in your system, it's best to not drive at all. You'll be saving yourselves the possibility of having to face the court, not to mention the complications you'll have to deal with if you harm another person. Besides, St. Patricks' Day is a happy time and it shouldn't be burdened by all these things.

    Kim Hunter @ Kim Hunter