TOLEDO, Ohio — For many on St. Patrick's Day, the alcohol flows freely amid the festivities. But for some, it might be an excuse to feed a serious addiction.
Evie Grecos, a clinical supervisor with west Toledo rehab clinic Team Recovery, said it's often best for recovering alcoholics to avoid these kinds of celebrations altogether.
"It could very easily be a trigger for someone to go drink, so it's really important to keep the clients close and make sure that we're talking to them and make sure they're not triggered by something and can get through those coping skills," Grecos said.
Logan Thompson, a recovering addict inside Team Recovery, is more than happy to stay far away from the St. Patrick's Day bar scene in downtown Toledo.
"I'm really glad I'm not part of those moments anymore where I have to use or find a reason to justify my addiction," Thompson said.
She's made a complete 180 from where she said she was last St. Patrick's Day: struggling with substance abuse.
It wasn't just on holidays, though. It became a daily habit. Her relationships with her children and family took a back seat to drugs and alcohol.
"I was sitting in bed and looked at myself in the mirror and was just like, 'I don't know who you are anymore,'" Thompson said. "I guess I was just tired of living that way or living at all."
Her story is a common one.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 30 million people in the US struggled with alcohol use disorder in the past year. But only a little more than 4% sought treatment.
Thompson first sought help from Team Recovery six months ago. While she struggled with cravings and a desire to leave for the first few weeks, the program's teachers and classes were able to help her grow into a stronger person, she said.
"I'm proud of the woman I am today, I know my parents are proud of who I am and I know I'm someone my kids can look up to," Thompson said.
Holidays like St. Patrick's Day can still be challenging for even Team Recovery's most successful patients, Grecos said.
"The memory, the thought, the idea behind it was the big celebration and the big party, and now I'm not drinking. It could very easily be a trigger for somebody to go drink," Grecos said.
But for Thompson, her days at the bar are officially behind her.
For those who want to recover like Thompson, offered advice to consider before you grab your next drink:
"Think about how you could be living if you don't reach for it," she said. "This life, being sober, is the best thing to ever happen to me."