Every year, millions of people attend Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, including visitors from all over the US and all over the world. It’s a unique cultural event that features prominently on many bucket lists, but it’s also an event primarily known as a giant party. Drinking is a major part of Mardi Gras, but it’s not the only part. If you’re in recovery and you want to go to Mardi Gras, here are some things to consider.

If you’re new to recovery, you should probably skip Mardi Gras for now.

Mardi Gras is a lot of fun, but it can also be very stressful. The crowds are enormous, traffic is terrible, parking is scarce, and the port-o-potties will have you rethinking all of your life choices. When you finally get to wherever you’re trying to go, there will almost certainly be people drinking all around you. If your recovery is not relatively solid, this can all be a lot to deal with and temptation is never far away. You might want to wait until you have some practice being around alcohol without feeling triggered.

Choose your parades wisely.

You may want to stick mainly to the morning and afternoon parades and plan to make your way out when it gets dark and things start getting a little more raucous. The good news is there are good parades at all times of the day. Zulu, for example, is one of the most iconic Mardi Gras parades and it rolls in the morning. Also, the more entertaining the parade, the less bored you will feel and the less you’ll want a drink. Orpheus, as the name suggests, has the best music, while Bacchus is the most lavish.

Choose your location wisely.

Bourbon Street and Canal are the most famous spots for celebrating Mardi Gras, but if you’re in recovery, it’s definitely best to avoid those. You’ll be pushed cheek to jowl with drunk strangers and it will be hard to find anything to drink that’s not alcoholic. Instead, head out to one of the more family oriented spots. St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District is a beautiful area and the atmosphere is festive without being overwhelming. There is still a lot of drinking, but there are also a lot of families and it’s more laid back.

Bring sober friends.

As with any party, if you’re going to Mardi Gras, bring sober friends to hold you accountable. A group between two and six people is usually about right for having fun without everyone getting lost.

Bring snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.

Most of the food and drink will be available at bars along parade routes, so it’s a good idea to have your own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. This way, you won’t have to go into a bar to get a drink of water. Coming prepared also makes it easier to get a good spot on the parade route.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.