How to Enjoy a Sober Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is a celebration of overindulgence before the Lenten season.
It’s a time for laughter, dancing, parades, food, family, and friends. Unfortunately, Fat Tuesday is also strongly associated with drugs and alcohol.
There’s no doubt that staying sober during Mardi Gras can be challenging, even if you’re several years into the recovery process. To enjoy the celebration without a relapse, you need to develop a solid game plan.
Skip the Rowdy Spots and Attend a Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Event
The French Quarter is one of the most heavily trafficked areas and is typically filled with intoxicated patrons. Canal Street’s atmosphere is particularly rowdy.
If you plan to stay sober during Mardi Gras, it’s best to plan your day around the more family-friendly events. For example:
- The Knowledge Effect and Victory Addiction Recovery Center will have a family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration at Parc Putnam, across from the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Lafayette from 9:00am to 4:00pm on February 28, 2017. This alcohol- and tobacco-free event will feature music, food, fun jumps, and face painting.
- The Garden District of St. Charles is a popular spot for families staking out their parade-watching position and having picnics under the beautiful oak trees.
- Most events in the suburban areas, such as Metairie (just 10 minutes away from New Orleans), are family-friendly.
- If you’re more of an introvert, skip the public events in favor of a private picnic or house party. In a controlled environment, there’s much less temptation to turn to alcohol and drugs for entertainment.
- History buffs will enjoy the Mardi Gras exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum. This exploration of the Mardi Gras tradition includes masks, gowns, and costumes on display.
- For those who’ve turned to their faith to work throughout the recovery process, church functions are a safe haven. Enjoy the season while indulging in good food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Surround Yourself with People Who Respect Your Recovery
Staying sober will be much easier if you’re not surrounded by people who are pressuring you to drink or use drugs. Attend your favorite Mardi Gras events with the family and friends who’ve supported your recovery and respect your commitment to sobriety.
Under no circumstances should you attend Mardi Gras events alone. When you’re not surrounded by familiar faces, it will be much harder to resist the temptation to drink or use drugs.
As you’re preparing for Mardi Gras, remind yourself that you’re in control of your life. Remember the acronym ANT: Avoid Negative Thoughts. Write down a few of your favorite positive affirmations and carry them on a card in your wallet next to the phone number and contact info for your sponsor.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Even if you are surrounded by a strong support network, uncomfortable situations are still a possibility. Here’s how to make sure they don’t catch you off guard.
- Have a plan for handling each of the HALT addiction triggers: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
- If you’re uncomfortable with just saying “no,” come up with some tactful ways to refuse a drink, such as saying you’re on antibiotics that can’t be mixed with alcohol or carrying a non-alcoholic drink with you to discourage people from offering you another.
- Know how you can easily excuse yourself all together if the celebration gets to be too much, whether it’s by having someone call you with a faux emergency or by claiming your sitter can only stay till a certain time.
Consider Staying Home
Every person in recovery faces different struggles. If you feel like the temptation of Mardi Gras is going to be too much to handle, it’s perfectly fine to skip the celebration all together. Consider attending an AA or support group meeting to reaffirm your commitment to your sobriety, using the time to tackle some home improvement projects you’ve been putting off, or planning a mini vacation to visit friends and family in another town.
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