After many months, football season is winding down but the big game – the Super Bowl – still lies ahead! Whether your team is in it or not, this very all American “holiday” is a part of our country’s fabric, and chances are you will be watching the game somewhere with friends. You may find yourself at a house party, at a bar, tailgating, or – gasp – at the Super Bowl itself! If you do have a horse in this race, the Super Bowl can be a time for very, very high emotions, and possibly, extreme disappointment. As someone who is working on his or her recovery, all of these things add up to lots and lots and lots of triggers, and you need to be smart, wise, vigilant, and prepared, to ensure that you will stay on the straight and narrow before, during, and after this huge event.
Football & Drugs & Alcohol & You
Even small children equate football season with eating salty and fatty foods and drinking lots of alcohol – even if they only partake in the first two of that trifecta. In American culture, drinking beer and watching sports go hand in hand. In fact, this pairing is pretty much the entire reason “sports bars” even exist – and today, according to the American Nightlife Association, sports bars account for as many as 31.7% of bars in the United States. And even if you manage to avoid going to a sports bar to watch the game, it’s very likely that cracking open a few brews is a vital part of watching football on the tube with friends as well. Frequent, repeated advertisements during the many commercial breaks assault you with temptation as well. Even at the game, beer vendors tempt fans at a persuasive rate of at least once every five minutes (although thankfully, many stadiums have instituted alcohol-free or entirely vendor-free sections, in some cases). According to one study, 48% of fans drink at sporting events – and as many as 8% of fans at any given event are too drunk to drive. In short, there is beer everywhere – and it’s in your face, all the time.
And what about drug use? Certainly, many fans also mentally link drug consumption – particularly cocaine use – with watching sports. The stress of the game induces yelling, and increases heart rate, certainly – so some figure why not throw a little blow into the mix, too? If this is a tradition amongst your friends, it may be difficult to avoid entirely, no matter how hard you try.
Perhaps this is all too familiar to you. Maybe your friends and family have always used spectator sports as an excuse to consume, consume, consume. It’s not just them, either – now that you are on the clean and sober path to recovery, you may be more conscious of the fact that on the day after sporting events – whether experienced in person or on television – your office is a lot quieter, and a lot more hung over than usual.
Well, at least take comfort in knowing it’s not just you – fact is, this is America, and if you’re someone who loves sports, and are now trying to live a healthy and drug and alcohol-free lifestyle, the new you is likely going to encounter some difficulties when it comes to watching sports.
How to Stay Super Sober for the Super Bowl
However, despite all this, there is hope! You can stay clean and sober during the Super Bowl, and soon, it will just be like any other day for you. The key is planning. As with every occasion and every potential trigger, and even every football game, if you go in with a solid game plan and stick to it, you can find great success! Here are few tips to consider this Super Bowl Sunday, and if you keep them in mind, there’s no reason you can’t go home feeling like you won the Vince Lombardi Trophy yourself, with Super Bowl rings on each of your twenty fingers and toes.
- Create a sober strategy. First and foremost, you need to have a plan and a strategy for this new and different challenge. If you used to watch sports in a bar, that may not work for you anymore – at least not for now. Being surrounded by other people who are drinking and partying while you cannot is not a good idea. Whether your team is winning or your team is losing, in the moment, it may be hard to say no. Instead, maybe have friends over to your house, where you can control the environment. Start a new tradition!
- Attend a meeting. It is probably wise to attend a meeting before the big game. It’s likely that there will be other people attending that same meeting with the same concerns as you, and you can work together with the facilitator to develop strategies that can help. And, it’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone.
- Bring non-alcoholic drinks with you. If you are going somewhere where other people will be drinking, bring your favorite non-alcoholic beverage along with you. Unfortunately, people who drink don’t always remember to pick up something for the non-drinkers in attendance, so be one step ahead of them by worrying about yourself first.
- Be honest with your friends and yourself. If you want to continue to celebrate the Super Bowl with your old crew, be honest with them and with yourself. If they are really your friends, they will be understanding and supportive of your decision to quit drinking and drugs. It may be a bit uncomfortable for everyone at first, but as long as you are straightforward and honest about your needs, everything should go smoothly. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to leave. Your sobriety comes first; don’t forget that.
- Surround yourself with other sober people. Certainly you have made new, clean and sober friends on your recovery journey so why not plan a gathering for folks who are on a path that mirrors your own? Having an entirely sober Super Bowl Sunday with others who are also in recovery can be a lot of fun for all. And, don’t forget – you may have quit drinking, and you may have quit doing drugs, but no one is stopping you from eating fifty wings while you cheer for your favorite team and mock the Half Time Show performer! Or, if you still want to attend the game or a friend’s party or an old haunt – bring along at least one sober friend to serve as your support system. There’s power in numbers, and even one likeminded person at your side can be a game-changer when making life-changing decisions.
- Continue to focus on your recovery. If you know Super Bowl Sunday is going to be full of triggers for you, perhaps consider ramping up your recovery efforts in the weeks leading up to it. Rather than attending one weekly meeting, attend three. Perhaps read a daily morning meditation or affirmation to help build strength. Call your sponsor if you need additional support, and reach out to friends about your concerns. With all these things combined, you can easily build the power and resilience you need to get through the big game without any problems at all.
Super Bowl Sunday isn’t something to fear! It’s also not something to avoid. If you love football, there is absolutely no reason you should not continue to enjoy it as a clean and sober individual – you just have to make some changes to ensure that you stay healthy and drug and alcohol free, and you will find that you can enjoy it just as much as you ever did! As you know – in recovery, everything is the same – but you are different, and therefore the ways you approach things need to be different too. Just follow these tips, stay positive, and have fun! You can do it!
At Clear Sky Recovery, we are here to help you begin your path to recovery and a healthy future – on Super Bowl Sunday, and every day! If you are interested in learning more about ibogaine treatment and the way it can help you break free of addiction, please reach out to us today. Our staff is standing by, eagerly awaiting your call, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.