Tag Archives: Sober Living

5 Tips To Sober Tailgating And Sports Events To Avoid Relapse Triggers

5 Tips To Stay Sober For Tailgating And Sports Events

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

5 Tips To Stay SoberSometimes, 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:

  • Lemonade
  • Sweet tea
  • Soda
  • Water
  • Juice
  • Coffee

Stay Focused

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

Further Support

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.

Sober Dating: How Long Should You Wait, and How to Not Be an Emotional Wreck on a Date

This entry was posted in Recovery and tagged on by .

When you enter rehab, you may be tempted to try to start up a romantic relationship with a peer who is on journey similar to yours. After all, you can’t use alcohol or drugs anymore, so such a relationship would seem like a viable option for pleasure and emotional release going forward, right? And this person of interest would seemingly provide comfort as you both tackle the arduous task of sobriety.

However, there’s a reason many rehab centers advise against starting up a new relationship within the program, and even for some time after graduating treatment. In this aticle, we’ll explore the rationale behind that advice, and we’ll lay out exactly how long you should wait and what to do when you finally begin dating again.

So How Long Should I Wait Before Dating Again?

Alcoholics Anonymous recommends waiting at least a year after starting recovery to start dating again. And although we don’t always agree with every AA directive, we tend to agree here.

These are the potential backgrounds of individuals you might try to go on a date with after the first year of sobriety:

  • An individual you went through rehab with
  • Someone you haven’t dated before who doesn’t drink or use drugs
  • Someone you haven’t dated before who does drink
  • An old flame who will get to know the new, sober you

The last two on the list are usually the hardest ones to navigate, although it is possible either one could turn into a long-term relationship. In the case of an old flame, perhaps your drug or alcohol use played a role in the separation. You’ll have to consider whether that person served as a trigger for your drug or alcohol use, and whether it’s worth moving forward and if you’re both in a better place now.

Why Should I Wait a Full Year?

It’s kind of a faux pas to be outright selfish, although you can argue that society and the media subtly encourage it, but it is OK to be a little selfish in early recovery. After all, this is your time to focus on you. It’s your time to decide what you want out of the rest of your life, and to figure out how to achieve that without leaning on drugs or alcohol as a crutch.

You definitely don’t want to take your eye off the ball in recovery, especially in early recovery. It may feel like a relationship would be a good way to “distract” yourself since you can no longer drink or use, but the reality is you don’t want to distract yourself at all. And while having a close, intimate partner to share all of your successes, struggles and fears with isn’t a terrible idea, it can wait. Focus on yourself for at least the first year.

Make note that being a little selfish in recovery doesn’t mean you should overlook volunteer or charity work. Many rehab programs encourage (if not require) it, and people going through recovery tend to discover a passion for it and see it as an enjoyable sober activity that’s an alternative to drinking or using.

Does This Mean I Can’t Even Flirt?

Just because you should avoid getting into a romantic relationship during the first year of recovery doesn’t mean you can’t make friends with the opposite sex (in rehab or outside) or flirt a little. Finding someone who’s receptive to your flirting reminds you of your self-worth, which you may have lost while you were in the throes of addiction. It also injects some joy into the recovery process.

But no matter the extent of your flirting, remember that a relationship should not be the end goal. Early recovery is your time to get to really know yourself and to figure out how you want to present yourself to the world as a sober individual. You will get to know who you are without drugs or a drink by your side, and the type of partner you’ll end up looking for will likely be much different than the ones you pursued while under the influence.

How to Approach Sober Dating

After waiting at least a year after you first entered rehab, nobody would fault you if you start looking to date again. However, this process is going to feel much different than it did before.

The obvious reveal you’re going to have to make to a new romantic interest is that you’re in recovery. There are stories of people at this stage who felt like revealing such information was akin to disclosing an STD.

But should sharing that you’re in recovery really be that intimidating? If it scares a person off that you can’t drink with them, then move on to the next.

Our advice is it’s best to get this information out up front – whether on the first date or even as you’re texting or instant messaging before that point. You don’t have to go into full details of what the lowest point of your addiction was, or how many rehabs you’ve been to, etc. This can come later as you get to know the individual better.

If it doesn’t reach that point with a certain individual, then keep trying until you find someone who’s more receptive to your background and what you’re trying to accomplish going forward. And if you’re having trouble connecting with someone who drinks, there are several viable sober dating sites and apps you can use in order to find like-minded romantic interests.

How to Not Be an Emotional Wreck on a Sober Date

It’s common for people on first dates to have two or three drinks during the date, and surveys have found that many of these individuals “pre-game” with a beverage or two to take away the anxiety heading into the evening.

As someone in recovery, you don’t have this option, and your mind should be in a completely different place, anyway. That’s why we recommend thinking outside of the box during early dating.

Forget the traditional candlelight dinner until much later in the relationship, and instead choose an early dating setting such as:

  • A hike
  • A ballgame
  • The theater
  • A coffee shop
  • A museum
  • Rock climbing
  • A theme park
  • A drawing or painting class
  • Food or music festival
  • A guided tour
The possibilities are almost endless. It’s going to be up to you, your imagination and your best read on your romantic interest. The stakes are lower when you’re not just face to face with the other person over dinner for an hour or more; choosing an alternate venue will help relieve much of the pre-date anxiety. Just remember to avoid any place that might be a trigger for your alcohol or drug cravings.

Avoiding Relapse in Recovery

The best part about sober dating is that your judgment won’t be clouded by drugs or alcohol. Many people hit it off over drinks on their first date, but once they both hang out sober, they find that they don’t have that much in common or are not that interested in each other, after all. Sober dating allows you to get a more accurate read on the other person right away, and then decide if the relationship is worth pursuing.

One of the other reasons that experts warn against dating in the first year of recovery is that it is a trigger to many former alcohol and drug users. They may get into a relationship as some sort of “replacement addiction,” and this is not healthy, in almost all cases.

For more about relapse prevention and to see some tips on how to manage stress and risky situations during recovery, check out our relapse prevention fact sheet. Best of luck in your sober dating journey!

See Our Relapse Prevention Guide

Controversies Surrounding Drugs, Alcohol, Addiction and Recovery

Controversies Surrounding Drugs, Alcohol, Addiction and Recovery

The controversies surrounding drugs, alcohol, addiction and recovery abound. In our community of those struggling with addiction and those of us in recovery, opinions differ greatly on what’s right and wrong.

Is recovery comprised of behaviors that avoid all drugs and medications, or does staying clean only pertain to the substance we experienced problems with?

These kinds of questions arouse our sensibilities as recovering alcoholics and addicts. There are so many important questions, and so many issues that need fixing. The answers are worth debating. Everyone’s unique experience is valuable, and every voice matters. Let’s delve into these controversies together.

The Great Marijuana ‘Detox’ Debate

Many rehab facilities still offer treatment for marijuana addiction, while some individuals are turning to pot to ease their detox symptoms or using the drug as a substitute for opioids or more potent drugs.

Is it OK to smoke marijuana? Is it OK if you’re using it to get off harsher drugs like heroin? What about if you are smoking weed as a permanent substitution for stronger street drugs or prescription drug abuse?

We know marijuana is addictive, at least psychologically. It probably won’t kill you; however, if you’ve ever been in the home of a heavy pot smoker, you realize it can certainly make your life unmanageable.

Our country is undergoing a major debate and law reformation regarding a natural plant that has been used since pre-modern times. Here are the facts, as of the publishing of this article:

  • Marijuana is legal for recreational use in nine states plus D.C.
  • Marijuana is decriminalized in an additional 13 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Cannabis is legal for medical use in 30 states plus D.C., as well as in the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
  • The federal government is considering a proposal to join Canada in decriminalizing marijuana nationwide.

Is It Cheating to Use Drugs Like Suboxone and Methadone?

Suboxone, Subutex and methadone are commonly used for detox purposes and even pain management. Research shows these medications are often more addictive than the drugs patients quit.

Some people are using “Subs” and methadone, while others claim these individuals are cheating in their addiction recovery and short-changing themselves, as well.

Complicating matters further, unscrupulous clinics seem to intentionally dispense high doses of Suboxone and methadone to get a daily customer for life. There is no difference between drug dealers and these clinics.

Substituting one drug for another isn’t getting clean. Is replacement therapy helpful and life-saving, or merely a poor attempt to cheat addiction?

Heroin Users Blaming Others for Their Addiction

Another controversy is people addicted to heroin who are placing the blame on someone else for their addiction. Whether it’s the pharmaceutical companies, doctors or other people in their lives that have caused stress or left them emotionally broken, they put the responsibility for their addiction elsewhere.

In American culture, we revere doctors and trust their professional judgment above our own. Besides, they are paid the big bucks and studied at a university for eight years. They must know more than us, right? Yet heroin addiction often starts with prescribed opioid medications.

Some argue personal responsibility trumps all. But opioid use is at phenomenal levels. The death toll from opioids surpasses loss of life in any U.S.-involved war. Personal responsibility pales in the face of such horrific numbers. Handing out painkillers like candy does patients no favors either.

We know pharmaceuticals are big business. For-profit companies are most concerned with their bottom line and their shareholders. They are not in business to put patients’ best interest first. But is it a cop-out to place all of the blame for opioid and heroin addictions on Big Pharma and doctors?

Antidepressants: Beneficial or Detrimental?

Antidepressants are another class of medications that are handed out as freely as after-dinner mints. It makes us wonder if everyone in the world is depressed. For the number of antidepressant prescriptions written, you’d think so.

These brain-altering chemicals are very expensive. Pharmaceutical reps frequently show up at doctors’ offices pedaling their wares like gypsies of old. Free samples fly from attractive, well-dressed salesmen and saleswomen.

Some individuals can’t handle the side effects brought on by antidepressants. Others are non-compliant or erratic with their medication. Yet another group of people says the drugs help.

Additionally, getting on antidepressants can carry the risk of not being able to get off them or causing severe withdrawal when you do quit them.

Are antidepressants over-prescribed? Are they helpful or hurtful? Or are they necessary only in extreme cases?

The Business of Rehab

Ooh, now we’ve hit a sensitive nerve, haven’t we?

Those among us who have spent time in rehab can’t help but wonder if it’s all about money. Sure, the clinicians want to see people get better; therapists don’t do their jobs solely for their measly paychecks. The staff – well, some of them – are vested in helping people, while some have trouble finding other work. Tattoo-clad addicts in recovery with a record aren’t at the top of headhunters’ lists, let’s be honest.

Our rehab-experienced friends tell us they are threatened with leaving against medical advice (AMA) if they wish to leave treatment before their insurance benefits are maxed out. Yikes!

Rehab centers claim everyone needs to stay in treatment as long as possible, and there is some truth to that. Statistically, people are more successful in beating addiction the longer the treatment program is. And, alarming numbers of people trying to escape the grasp of addiction are relapsing.

Nowadays, it is more common than not for someone to enter rehab more than once. Sitting around sharing your feelings starts with your self-intro of:

  • Your name
  • Why you’re in treatment
  • Whether this is your first rehab trip

Really? Relapse and repeated rehabilitation is so abundant that clinicians have to ask everyone how many times they’ve previously been in rehab?

The First Time Is Not the Charm

Something’s wrong with a system when we – through our insurance companies – are paying tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a treatment that may or may not take the first time around. Damn. That does sound like it’s about money.

Treatment centers have become big business, big money makers and big salesmen. Some people say when they call a treatment facility, the promises given and the depictions of the facility are in stark contrast to the reality they see upon arrival.

Some patients are moved quickly through the typical stages of rehab:

  • Detox
  • Residential
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Aftercare

And other patients are kept longer in each stage. The therapists say it has to do with clinical decisions in conjunction with the patient’s insurance. Those with better insurance are held back longer while their peers move on. This can be discouraging and make clients wonder if they are not progressing as fast as they should be.

Your Two Cents

We’ve presented a number of questions and controversial material to ponder. We want to hear from everyone. All of our voices matter, and we need each other. AA teaches the principle that our brains are diseased by our addictions, and only in sharing and getting feedback do we come to good conclusions.

Leave a comment below and/or head over to our online forum or our Facebook page to let us know how you feel. The controversies are out there. How will we address them as a community and as a society at large?

How Long After Getting Sober Should I wait to Get into a Relationship?

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How Long After Getting Sober Should I wait to Get into a Relationship?

Early recovery from addiction is all about building a new life for yourself, so it is inevitable that you are going to start repairing old relationships you had with people, as well as build new relationships. What if the relationship you have with someone starts to move in the direction of being a romantic one? This is a somewhat controversial question for those in recovery, so we want to break down everything you need to consider before beginning a romantic relationship within the first year of addiction recovery.

Building Relationships in Addiction Recovery

Early recovery puts an emphasis on awareness of your thinking and actions, as well as being cognizant of the dangers of your thinking and actions. When starting new relationships as a new and sober you, you need to take a defensive stance and be very careful. The worst thing you can do in recovery is to put yourself in any position that could harm your recovery or threaten your sobriety. People and your relationships with them can either strengthen your recovery or weaken it.

What Addiction Treatment Specialists Say About Dating in Recovery

Counselors and addiction treatment professionals have come to the conclusion that dating in the first year of recovery offers more harm than it does good – at least when it comes to your long-term recovery and sobriety. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) goes as far as to implement a “one year rule” on dating, citing the fact that your first year of recovery should be focused on rebuilding the relationship you have with you.

This “one year rule” is actually very smart and sensible, and can protect you from getting hurt at a time when you are still emotionally, physically, and mentally fragile. However, life and love don’t often correlate with smart and sensible, and love can make fools of us all. So, when love shows up in the first year of recovery, there are two choices: pursue the relationship, or decline to further the relationship. Those aren’t two great options for someone who has this question, and it is only natural to want to reject the one year rule and figure out how you can have the best of both worlds and create a third option. How can you pursue a romantic relationship with someone without harming your recovery?

Types of Romantic Relationships in the First Year of Recovery 

First, let’s look at the types of relationships that might happen in early sobriety. Each type of romantic relationship will likely have its own set of nuances, so it is best to address the details to find the true weight of decisions that need to be made.

Continuing a Relationship When Sober 

This is a very common type of relationship, and also one that has very “high stakes.” This type of relationship is characterized by the fact that you had a relationship with a person while you were using drugs and alcohol, and are considering continuing the relationship after rehab and in early sobriety. With these types of relationships, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

Did my partner drink or use drugs with me?

This is important to establish, because of the risk that your partner may continue to drink or use drugs while you are trying to remain sober. In many cases, your significant other’s use of substances can be a trigger that causes you to want to use them again as well.

Was my partner supportive of me getting help and getting sober?

It seems like a no-brainer, but if your partner was not concerned with your getting sober and didn’t support you in your recovery, then the relationship will be very toxic to your continued sobriety.

There are a great many other factors that could contribute to your decision to continue your relationship; if you have kids together, share a residence, work together, or have other long-term ties, simply severing the relationship may be difficult. The most important thing to remember is that your recovery takes first priority, and if your partner is not contributing to your recovery, the relationship is going to be a constant struggle.

Revisiting an Old Relationship When Sober 

This happens so often and can take its toll on you mentally. In the first year of recovery, you are going to experience a lot of emotions. Shame and regret are going to be 2 of the strongest emotions, and even though you can try to suppress them, or deny that they will have an effect on you, they are going to have a very strong effect.

One of the main things you will regret or feel shameful about in your recovery is the relationships you had with those closest to you when you were using. The weight of your past actions will become crystal clear, and you will be overcome with the feeling that if you had it to do all over, you would do it right. You would treat them how you now see you should have.

Just because you can see more clearly in your early sobriety, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to make mistakes, and it doesn’t mean that the second try at a relationship is going to yield better results than the first round. It is important to remember this, and not get too caught up in the shame and regretful feelings.

The good news is, that if this past relationship truly is strong, and deserving of a second chance, that person will wait for you and will be willing to seek a second try when you both are ready. Within the first year of sobriety, you probably aren’t ready, and it would be unfair to both of you to try and force a second attempt at the relationship too early. If – after a year – you continue to feel that you could treat the other person better, and could have a successful relationship, it might be worth the attempt. However, relationships that are based only on the strong feelings of regret and shame probably won’t equal out to a strong long-term and healthy relationship.

Starting a New Relationship When Sober 

This is the type of relationship that in early recovery are questioning. You meet someone in the first few months after rehab and treatment, and you like them, and you want to pursue a more intimate relationship — Is that so wrong? No, it is only natural to want to move on with your life and start working on your goals for the future. A significant other will definitely be part of that future, but when should another person become a part of your life and work with you on those future goals?

Emotional and Mental Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal in the First Year of Recovery 

Before getting into a relationship within the first year of recovery, it is important to look at the symptoms that you will encounter in that first year of being sober.

  • Persistent anxiety
  • Feelings of Guilt and Shame
  • Lack of Energy
  • Anhedonia (Inability to Feel Positive Emotions)
  • Depression
  • Emotional Exhaustion

The above symptoms will be persistent and manic in the first months of recovery. You will undoubtedly experience high highs and low lows and will be – for lack of a better word – an emotional wreck. The first 12 months of sobriety should be focused on how you handle these feelings and emotions without chemicals or medications, and eventually, you will find your natural balance again.

The risk of adding a relationship to this crucial timeframe is having a dependency on that other person to balance your feelings. An energetic significant other can balance out your lack of energy, and an outgoing and protective personality can counterbalance your persistent anxiety. However, adding this person in as a counterweight before you have found your natural balance can keep you from healing yourself.

Progressing Relationships Slowly

The overall conclusion to these questions falls in-line with AA’s “one year rule,” and the only safe conclusion one can draw is that the best bet is to not get involved in a relationship until you have built yourself into a strong individual who can take what the world has to throw at them. You need to be able to stand on your own two legs first and foremost before you let anyone try and sweep you off your feet. Move relationships with friends and those who could be more than friends slowly.

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