Football plays an important role in the lives of many Americans. Friendships are forged through small talk about the strengths and weakness of prominent players. Families gather in their living rooms and bond while cheering on their favorite teams. Social connections are strengthened through tailgating, Super Bowl parties, and impromptu touch football games in the backyard. Unfortunately for some, just as football plays a prominent role in our lives, alcohol often plays a prominent role in football celebrations. Can you still enjoy football and its related activities as a recovering alcoholic?
Jim Corrington, Director of The Meadows Outpatient Center and devoted Arizona Cardinals fan, says that you can, as long as you have a solid game plan.
1. Hire a Good Coaching Team: Consult with your sponsor.
Your early recovery is about survival. If you’re in your first year of recovery, you likely have not completed all 12 steps, and are extremely vulnerable. You often are not even aware of how vulnerable you are. You may not be spiritually fit enough yet to attend events where alcohol is available and where you might be surrounded by people with whom you are likely to fall into old patterns of behavior.
Good sponsorship is so important in this stage. Consulting with a sponsor before attending any potentially risky events, and making a plan together is a must. If you like football, a good sponsor can help you find other people in recovery who throw alcohol-free football parties.
Things may be different after you have a year or more of sobriety under your belt, but not always. More information about choosing a sponsor can be found on the Alcoholic Anonymous website.
2. Build a Good Defense: Avoid alcohol-related stimuli.
In recovery, it is often said that you should be able to go anywhere and do anything if you are “spiritually fit.” But for those in the beginning stages of their recovery that is a big IF. Jim likes to say that “If the room you are in doesn’t have any alcohol or drugs in it, it is impossible for you to use or drink.”
It’s important for those just beginning the next phase of their recovery to try to avoid stimuli that may lead to thoughts about drinking. This may be especially difficult for football related parties and activities, given how intertwined they often are with alcohol and messages about alcohol. Alcohol-related stimuli can include stadium signs and displayed advertisements, music, commercials, sitting in an area of a stadium where others are drinking, parties that serve alcohol, tailgating, etc. There are some small steps you can take to try to avoid these, though. If you are watching a game on TV at home and a beer commercial comes on, change the channel. And, if you’re planning to attend a game in a stadium, ask about alcohol free seating sections. (The Arizona Cardinals stadium, for example, has two alcohol free sections.)
Also, use extreme caution if you are thinking about attending a “Normie” party, which can be dangerous in early recovery. Sometimes, once a person leaves rehab, they become overwhelmed with the desire to feel “normal” again. You have to remember that you are not “normal” in your relationship to alcohol. You have a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease that requires total abstinence from all addictive substances for life, one day at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can never have fun again. It just means that it may take some time for you to redefine what “fun” means.
3. Build a Good Offense: Find sober buddies.
One of the smartest things you can do to stay sober is to seek out others who are also in recovery and love doing the same things you do. There are many recovering alcoholics who still enjoy football with their friends, and love organizing sober football parties and sober tailgating events.
AA meetings are a great place to start building up your network of sober friends. There are also several recovery-focused social networks online. If you’re a Meadows Alumnus, you may have the option of attending Inspired Recovery meetings in your city.
The Meadows Outpatient Center in Scottsdale, Arizona also regularly hosts meetings and events that are free and open to those in recovery and their families. As a matter of fact, we’re excited to announce that on February 7, we’ll be hosting our first ever Sober Super Bowl party!
We Can Help
If you think you or someone you love may need help breaking free from alcohol or drug addiction, give us a call. The Meadows Outpatient Center is a safe and nurturing community where patients are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. The goal is for these individuals to gain the courage to face difficult issues, including grief and loss; heal from emotional trauma; and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. Contact us or call us at 800-244-4949.