Fall is often synonymous with football, whether you prefer college or professional football. There are games available to watch more than 4 days a week, and perhaps in a previous life, you used to heavily consume drugs or alcohol in anticipation of, during, or after those games. That might leave you thinking you need to avoid football season altogether, but not at all! If you’ve safely medically detoxed, and have a solid support group through your sober living community, you can enjoy football and tailgate season without drugs or alcohol.
At Lighthouse Recovery, we want you to live your life to its full potential while sober. For many of our patients, that means football is a vital activity to include. Our patients participating in IOP or sober living houses here in Dallas know a thing or two about celebrating (or bereaving) football (thanks to the Dallas Cowboys’ usually tumultuous seasons), and here are some of our best tips for tailgating in Dallas after alcohol or drug rehab.
1. Ask an accountability partner to join you for games or tailgates
If you’re ready to face the swarms of people drinking and partaking in potentially triggering behavior, do it with a side kick. An accountability partner will provide that reassurance you’ll stick with your sobriety and give you someone to chuckle alongside when the drinks take their effect on your non-sober peers.
2. Host a game watching party at your house
An easy way to control the experience is hosting! If you’re at a sober living house, simply talk to your housemates and ask to have the TV/channel to your favorite game on Saturday, and ask them to join in. If you’ve graduated from a rehab facility, host at your own place or set up your own tailgate. Have a swarm of fun football dips, wings, and snacks, and some sparkling water or non-alcoholic “beers”. Be aware some guests may choose to bring their own alcohol, so make sure you have support in place to avoid participating. Or, you can simply be transparent up front and let all invited know it’s a dry party.
3. Seek out a sober-specific tailgate
Talk with your IOP recovery coach or other peers from your previous Lighthouse sober living house about sober-specific tailgates. There may even be a group from AA (alcoholics anonymous) or NA (narcotics anonymous) who regularly meet.
4. Focus on food
If you choose to go to a game or big, community tailgate, focus on the food! Come hungry to the tailgate, and keep your hands and mouth busy with trying out different snacks. Sometimes the hardest part is what to do with your hands!
More and more breweries are investing in non-alcoholic options. Bring your own cooler of sober drinks, sparkling water, juice, mocktails, kombucha, or your preference. You don’t have to guzzle boring tap water the whole day!
6. Bring your family to the game
An easy way to keep tailgating and football family-friendly is to bring your family! If you have children or nieces and nephews, find a kid-friendly tailgate spot (a lot of alumni organizations host these) and the pressure is off to drink.
7. Participate in a fantasy football league
Fantasy football is a way to be engaged with the football season without having to physically be anywhere to partake. If you’re mid-rehab, this might be a good option for you!
8. Play squares or other non-drinking games for big rivalry games
Maybe the “fun” of your football season in the past involved substance abuse, but there are other enjoyable ways to spend the season. At tailgates or game watching parties, strike up a game of squares or take charge to set up outdoor lawn games.
9. Create a plan for triggers
Work with your recovery coach to discuss triggers ahead of football season. Walk through seeing an old dealer, or toxic friends from the past. What if you get lonely or bored at the game? Make a clear plan, with solutions, and a clear exit strategy if it becomes too much.
10. Avoid unhealthy or toxic places or people
As with any social endeavor, avoid toxic places or people. Surround yourself with people who’ve supported your sobriety journey, who won’t tempt or taunt you to partake, and who want to see you stay sober.
Whoever you’re rooting for, we know with the right systems and support in place, you can enjoy a fulfilling football season! If you’re in the midst of your addiction, give Lighthouse Recovery in Dallas a call. We can get you matched up and in a Sober Living House near you right away; or, you can look into our Intensive Outpatient Program. All calls are confidential and free.