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Alcoholism-Management Program Plans to Observe Nation's Drunkest Holiday "In Its Own Way."

"Sponsor me, I'm Irish" buttons hot sellers.

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CHURCH BASEMENT, DOWNTOWN - "For many people," says Brad, an alcoholic, "St. Patrick's Day is a day for celebrating one's Irish heritage, or one's fondness for Irish culture, or even just one's fondness for Irish beer and whiskey, by getting absolutely, irredeemably plastered.

Lord knows, that's how it was for me for, what, thirty years? But five years ago, I rolled an empty keg of Killian's Red down Laurel Street at an approaching police car, and the resultant difficulties convinced me that it was time to get help.

Tomorrow, I'll be one of the thousands of AA members spending St. Patrick's Day in a meeting. For someone like me, it's pretty much the only safe place to be."

However, says Brad, "it's not like we pretend St. Paddy's doesn't exist. Tomorrow, instead of standing up and saying 'Hello, my name is X, and I'm an alcoholic' at the start of our turn, we'll stand up and say, 'Hello, my name is X, and I'm Irish.'"

Brad says the joke lends the meeting "a festive touch. Plus, we'll usually sit around and listen to the Chieftains, the Waterboys, or Tom Clancy. But never the Pogues, man, never the Pogues. Those guys only sound good when you're drunk."

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