Health And Wellness

4 Smart Reasons To Stay Sober This St. Patrick’s Day

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two young white women in St. Patrick's Day garb, hold beers in a bar

Masks off, party on! No, wait.

Things are finally opening up. You can walk around without a mask — and smile! And you’re so ready to be out in public. You’re feeling safer and you’re tired of being lonely.

But can you really keep yourself safe this St. Patrick’s Day?

Restaurants and bars are open. You want to go out and meet friends. After all, it’s been two years since you felt you could safely do this. And there’s a big day just ahead, St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s a perfect setup for a really good time to party. Or is it? 

RELATED: 103 Ways My Life Improved In My Years Without Alcohol 

It's smart to stay sober this St. Patrick's Day.

Deciding to be sober on a high-risk holiday may be a good idea. So many holidays have become synonymous with getting drunk or high, as if you can’t have a good time unless you’re inhibited in some way.

And in many ways, St. Patrick’s Day is the epitome of this trend, with online maps of bar crawls available in many cities, and online drinking contests. But is it safe? 

Use your good problem-solving skills and think through what is right for you so you can decide how you can act on what you know to protect yourself and have a good time.

Here are four reasons why being sober this St. Patrick’s Day may be an excellent decision

1. You won’t gain weight.

You crave carbs when you drink.

There's that old wives’ tale that eating carbs sops up the booze so you can drink more green beer or appletinis.

The truth is that the reason you crave carbs, particularly when you're drinking, is that carbs increase your serotonin levels. A higher serotonin level acts like a natural tranquilizer. 

Wondering why you need a tranquilizer when you’re out partying? It’s because that high you get from alcohol begins to wear off. You may not be aware of it initially, but as your alcohol level begins to decrease, you may feel slightly more irritable or even down.

By boosting up dopamine levels in your brain, alcohol gives you the illusion that it's actually making you feel great (but what you are is distracted). The effect is that you keep drinking to get more dopamine release, but at the same time, you're altering other brain chemicals that are enhancing feelings of depression.

A big plate of French fries with ketchup, stuffed potato skins, a bowl of pasta, even a bag of popcorn isn’t just tasty, but they also provide the boost in serotonin your body is now craving.

Adding these carbs counteracts the rebound caused by your body metabolizing alcohol and beginning to feel low. 

While this may be news to you, it isn’t to restaurants. They know this and actually plan for it by stocking up on carb-loaded crowd-pleasers for St. Patrick’s Day.

But — and this is a big "but," no pun intended—the calories in carbs add to the weight-gain tally for this night of excess. Why does that happen?

There are a lot of calories in carbs.

A large serving of French fries is about 500 calories. One ounce of popcorn is over 100 calories. Two large pizza slices total about 500 calories

Not to mention the calories in that green beer you’re guzzling, which comes in at between 150 and 350 per 12 ounces. But who’s counting? 

Weight gain happens because alcohol basically shuts down your metabolism, meaning you don’t burn fat for energy; you store it in your body. And the result is weight gain.

Ask yourself if you want to add to the weight you’ve already gained. A research study at Harvard confirmed that, yes, almost 40% of us did gain weight.

You need to ask yourself, after two years of staying home and gaining weight, do you really want to add to this?

2. You’ll be able to enjoy karaoke without your singing out of tune showing up on the dreaded videos on TikTok.

Alcohol acts as a "disinhibitor," meaning it does free you up, but it also takes away part of your ability to plan and judge what you’re doing.

The result can be getting up in front of a group and singing really badly, doing an awkward striptease, or hitting on a guy you don’t recognize who turns out to be your son’s soccer coach and having this all documented for the world to see. 

But there’s an alternative: sober you singing karaoke beautifully and enjoying those videos.

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RELATED: Being Human Is Hard — And Alcohol Isn't Making Us Feel Any Better

3. You’ll know the name of the person you might wake up next to.

Imagine rolling over in the morning, looking around a strange room, and asking, "Hi, your name again is…?"

This may have been the worst thing you could have imagined two years ago, along with maybe winding up with an STD.

No. The world has changed since then. Getting an STD could be the least of your troubles.

4. You'll be more likely to avoid becoming a COVID-19 statistic.

COVID rates may be down, but the pandemic isn’t "over." Even if you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, your health concerns are not over.

Research has shown that cannabis is responsible for some of the breakthrough infections. What? Yes, cannabis lovers.

No group is more at risk for COVID-19 breakthrough infections than those with cannabis use disorder. The reason for this is unclear, as more studies are needed, but the fact remains that this group is at the greatest risk. 

Ask yourself if you want to be the last person in your group to get COVID.

This is the alternative. Having a safe St. Patrick’s Day probably means having a sober one.

Yes, have a beer or two if you want, but don’t get drunk. Sing karaoke, flirt, even go to a sober St. Patrick’s Day party, but be aware of who you’re with, and make a conscious decision to only do what you decide is in your best interest. 

Wishing you Slainte, the traditional Irish greeting, meaning "to your health."

RELATED: Sex (And Life) Is Better Without Alcohol

Patricia A O'Gorman, Ph.D. is a trauma and addiction psychologist, life coach, speaker, and author of 9 books on resiliency, women, and self-parenting. Learn more on her website.

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