March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day: A Guide to Maintaining Sobriety

march madness

Updated on 2/3/2023

To many, March equates to following basketball brackets and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. As both events approach, people plan how they will get together, what they will bring to a party, or prepare the drink and food menu. Despite how your friends or family celebrate March Madness or St. Patrick’s Day, make sure you celebrate in a way that supports your sobriety.

Preparing for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day

Before you go to a gathering involving sports and alcohol, put a plan in place to maintain your sobriety. Think about any obstacles, emotions or triggers that can be present. Discuss any questions or fears you have about attending the event with your therapist, alumni group, sponsor or group meeting. The people who want to help you with your sobriety are there for you whenever you need guidance.

St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness may present a time when you can face unwanted substance-related problems. People who celebrate, in general, tend to imbibe beer. The novelty of green beer, leprechauns and other festive symbols can be in connection with bingeing alcohol. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday many people use to justify their overindulgence or “break” from abstaining. You can feel vulnerable while you are with those who are drinking or using a drug excessively. If you are at a gathering and don’t have a way to leave, call a car service, your sponsor, a sober friend or a family member. You don’t have to stay in a situation you feel is dangerous to your mental health, physical well-being or sobriety.

How to Plan for St. Patrick’s Day or March Madness in Addiction Recovery

The urge to be a part of a social event is normal this time of year. You don’t have to give up socializing with friends or family after you leave treatment. You do need to reassess your relationships and the places you used to hang out by asking yourself if these people and places help your sobriety or hinder it. A March Madness or St. Patrick’s Day gathering can cause you anxiety or stress. Celebrations that trigger these emotions are something you should avoid. Instead, you can find or host a sober party.

There are a few more things you can consider before you go to a gathering:

  • Think about what it feels like to wake up sober. Consider how good it feels to interact with others when you are sober. Remember the strength you had to go to treatment and learn healthy mechanisms to maintain your sobriety. 
  • How do you feel when you are in a social setting that includes drinking or using a drug excessively? Remember how good it feels to not worry about being pressured or placed in a harmful situation. Sometimes the memory of what things were before your sobriety can help you avoid dangerous situations.

Maintaining your sobriety doesn’t mean you need to cut yourself off from social gatherings. Before you go, discuss your thoughts with a person who can guide you, put a plan in place or don’t go. Your sobriety is worth it.


March Madness or St. Patrick’s Day can bring up substance-related memories. In some cases, you can feel anxiety or stress about attending a social gathering focused on either event. You control your sobriety. Reach out to your therapist, sponsor, support group or other sober friends to discuss how you feel about being around substances, the people attending the event and the dynamics or experiences you had at these gatherings. The decision to go or not go is yours. If you’re not comfortable going, try joining or hosting a sober party. At Casa Palmera, we understand social events, holidays or sporting events where substances can cause anxiety or stress. We are here for you and want to help guide you throughout your recovery journey. Through individual, group and other therapies, you can learn healthy ways to maintain your sobriety.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.