The Super Bowl and alcohol go together like peanut butter and jelly. According to an article in the Huffington Post, Americans drink around 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday—enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool 1,938 times.
The culture of drinking that’s associated with the Super Bowl can make game day very difficult for someone in recovery, whether they’re fresh out of treatment or they’ve been sober for years. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re going to be just fine on the big day, this is potentially a major trigger, especially if you’re emotionally invested in the outcome of the game. Here are five tips for surviving the Super Bowl with your sobriety intact.
1. Prepare emotionally ahead of time.
One of the best general strategies for preventing relapse is to identify and prepare ahead of time for high-risk situations. If the Super Bowl is going to be a high-risk situation for you this year, decide and visualize how you will handle cravings, and plan ahead for what you’ll say if someone offers you a drink or makes fun of you for drinking soda.
Walk yourself through various scenarios and decide how you will handle each one. Write it down if that will help commit it to memory.
2. Have a plan in place if you’re going to a party.
If you’re going to a Super Bowl party and you know there will be drinking, have a planned exit strategy in case abstaining from alcohol is more difficult than you thought it would be. Consider taking a non-using friend along with you for extra support. Or, make a list of people you can call for help if the cravings start to weaken your resolve and make sure you have their numbers handy.
Be sure to bring plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to the party with you so that you always have something in hand to sip on. It may also help to offer your services as a designated driver. A recent study cited by the Los Angeles Times found a 77 percent increase in alcohol-related car accidents causing death or injury in California on Super Bowl Sunday. Offering to take friends home after the game could save someone’s life, and it will help ensure that you don’t reach for a beer, and that no one tries to hand you one.
3. Better yet, throw your own Super Bowl party.
Throwing your own sober Super Bowl party with non-using friends will altogether take alcohol out of the equation. It could also be a great way to deepen your relationship with peers in your support group, and it could be helpful for others in recovery to have a sober option for watching the game.
4. Start the day right.
Whether you’re heading to a Super Bowl party or watching the game at home, start your day by attending a support group meeting for a hefty dose of motivation and resolve. Discuss any concerns you have with your group, and take the best pieces of advice to the game with you.
Eat a nutritious breakfast, and hit the gym or go for a run to really add to the healthy habits. Chances are, you’ll feel so physically and mentally strong and healthy that it’ll be easier to abstain from drinking.
5. Consider the benefits of sobriety during the Super Bowl.
Make a list of all of the benefits of staying sober on Super Bowl Sunday, and keep it with you in case you need a little extra push to abstain. For one thing, you’ll remember the game well enough to discuss it afterward. You’ll wake up without regrets on Monday morning, and feel none of the alcohol abuse effects. You’ll gain a great deal of psychological confidence by staying sober on one of the most drunken days of the year, and you’ll get home safely—and maybe get someone else home safely, too.