Watching sports and tailgating is a lively way to spend time with friends and family, make new acquaintances, and just relax and enjoy food while rooting for your favorite team. For people recovering from alcoholism, however, these activities can be difficult to take part in due to the prevalence of alcoholic drinks and destructive behavior. The following tips can help you take part in the fun without risking your sobriety.
Prepare Before The Event
As with most activities, sober tailgating is possible by planning ahead of time so you can avoid alcohol relapse triggers. Some of the strategies you can take to map out your day include:
- Learning several ways to say “no” to peer pressure.
- Avoiding as many bars and drinking hot spots as possible.
- Trying not to go too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired to the event.
- Being honest with the friends you’re going with and preparing with them, if you can.
Contact Your Recovery Group
As part of your planning for sober sports events – or the events that extend afterwards – you should keep in contact with your recovery group, or join one if you haven’t. A recovery group provides you with therapy, recovery sessions, information and advice on how to enjoy sporting events without drinking. Pay a visit to your group before or after the game. If you have a sponsor, keep their contact information with you so they can offer you assistance in case you are in a difficult situation.
Surround Yourself with Other Sober People
Sometimes, avoiding relapse triggers is a lonely task that can ruin your enjoyment of tailgating. If you can, make it easier on yourself and invite other sober people to the event. You can even include your sponsor or other peers from your recovery group. Including peers at these events can help you stay away from alcoholic temptations and risky situations. In return, you can help them stay in the clear. Plus, it allows you the opportunity to expand your social network without giving up your old friends.
Additionally, you can attend sober tailgate events organized by other recovering people. If you are a college student, you can take advantage of programs like the ones University of Michigan organizes, where free pizza and water are offered to people wanting to stay sober. You can volunteer at or host one of these tailgate events, so you can stay alcohol-free and enjoy what sporting events have to offer.
Bring Alternative Drinks
Enjoying football without beer is always possible, especially if there are other drinks available. Having an alternative drink with you allows you to still enjoy a tasty beverage without alcohol. This strategy also prevents other people from offering you alcoholic drinks. When you go to a tailgate, bring a mini-cooler with your favorite non-alcoholic drinks, such as:
- Sweet tea
Above all else, stay focused on your recovery. You can enjoy sporting events with your friends and family without losing focus on your sobriety mission. If the football season makes it difficult to keep your relapse triggers in check, increase and reinforce any tactics you normally take to continue that recovery. Some of these tactics can include, but are not limited to:
- Morning meditation
- Attending several recovery meetings per week
- Watching inspirational videos or material
- Thinking about the fun you had as a child or teen without alcohol
If you have any other questions about keeping your sobriety during sporting events, or anything else about alcohol addiction, consider participating in the Fight Addiction Now forum, a community with resources and experts in the drug and alcohol addiction arena that will support you at any time.