For football fanatics all over the country, the golden days of fall have the power to arouse feelings of fellowship, camaraderie and sentimentality in the name of love of the game. Football season means heightened emotions and potential disappointment. Devoted fans and fantasy players enjoy watching and interacting with games on many levels, from season ticket holders to football parties to heated group message feeds. For those in recovery, however, the football season comes with its own unique set of triggers.
Football games and relapse triggers
Tailgates with friends and family before games typically involve plenty of food and lots of alcohol. While this is a source of merriment for many people, these events can be surpassingly trying for anyone recovering from addiction.
If you are attending a game in person, you are tempted by each food stand and vendor walking through calling out beer names. Alcohol advertisements seem to appear on every sign, at every turn. Understandably, this can be extremely triggering for someone in any stage of recovery but particularly those in the early stages.
Perhaps you forgo watching the game in person and choose to partake in a televised celebration instead. While this may seem like a safer option, watching the game from a bar or restaurant can be equally problematic to the recovering addict. Fellow fans and friends may offer free drinks when touchdowns are scored, which can be hard to resist. The smell of beer and cigarettes may be wafting through the room as cheers erupt, becoming unbearable.
Even if you choose to watch the game from home, you may experience triggers caused by alcohol commercials scattered throughout the game. All that to say, football season presents a real challenge for dedicated fans who are striving to remain clean through the fall and winter months.
This poses the question: What can you do to stay sober in the midst of such challenges? Give up your love of football? That doesn’t seem like a desirable or realistic option. We have good news. While you may have to celebrate the boys of fall differently, you don’t have to give up on your favorite sport. Follow these suggestions to maintain your social life by integrating your love of football and your newfound sobriety.
1. Use the buddy system
You are most likely not the only person in recovery who has a strong love of football. Ask around at your AA or NA meetings and see if there’s anyone else (or a group of people) who would be willing to go to a game with you. Even friends who are not in recovery may be open to sharing this experience with you by being your sober buddy. Ask someone you trust and enjoy the game!
2. Strategize about the setting
One way to maintain sobriety this football season is to avoid spectating the game in a place that exclusively serves alcohol. Catching the game from a bar means that the two primary activities entail: 1) watching the game and 2) drinking. Instead, try watching the game from a restaurant or a friend’s house. This setting provides a greater variety of activity and food options. If do choose to go out to a bar or restaurant, remember to bring a friend who is committed to staying sober with you.
3. Set boundaries with friends and ask them to hold you accountable
If you plan to watch the game from a restaurant or friend’s house, speak with them beforehand about being in recovery and your goals for this event. Explain to them that you cannot drink any alcohol, and inquire whether they would be open to forgoing alcohol at the party altogether. If they do decide to serve alcohol, ask that they refrain from offering you any alcoholic drinks.
Ask friends to hold you accountable by bringing up the topic to you if they notice you drinking alcohol. Create a safe dialogue that you both agree upon in the event that they do see you drinking; this will help them feel comfortable in approaching you to interrupt the behavior.
Get help: make a game plan
Football season is underway and teams are working hard each week to secure wins on the weekend. Let this football season be a source of pride and victory for you, too. If you are interested in speaking with a counselor to identify a more personalized game plan, call Rehab After Work today at 610-644-6464.