Football season means high emotions and possible disappointment. For devoted fans and fantasy players watching and interacting with games can be all types of exciting. 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 food (non-problematic) and lots of alcohol (problematic). If you’re attending the game there are literal stands of temptation and vendors walking through calling out beer names. This can be very triggering for someone in early recovery.
Even if you don’t go to a football game in person, watching the game from a bar or restaurant can be equally problematic. Fellow fans and friends may offer free drinks when touchdowns are scored, which can be hard to resist. Even watching the game from home can be triggering, considering how many beer commercials are scattered throughout the game.
What are you supposed to do as someone in early recovery? Give up your love of football? That doesn’t seem like a desirable or realistic option. Here are some suggestions to help integrate your love of football and your newfound sobriety:
Use the Buddy System
You can’t be the only person in recovery with a 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 not in recovery may be open to being your sober buddy. Ask those you trust and enjoy the game!
Avoid Watching the Game Somewhere that Only Serves Alcohol
Watching the game from a bar means the only things you can do are: 1. watch the game and 2. drink. Watching the game from a restaurant or a friend’s house means you have more options for things to do with a variety of food options. If you are going out, even to a restaurant, remember to bring a friend committed to staying sober with you.
Set Boundaries with Friends and Ask them to Hold you Accountable
If you’re going to be watching the game from a restaurant or friend’s house, speak with them beforehand about being in recovery. Explain to them that that means you cannot drink any alcohol, and ask them either to not have alcohol in the house or not offer you any alcoholic drinks. Ask them to hold you accountable by saying something to you if they notice you drinking alcohol. Create a dialogue and plan if they should see you drinking so they feel comfortable calling you out.
Football season is underway and teams are working hard each week to secure wins on the weekend. As a counselor who specializes in substance use disorders, I’m asking you to put in the same amount of preparation so that you can have a successful season as well. If you’re interested in speaking with a counselor to identify a more personalized game plan, call Rehab After Work today.