By: Reade Hulburd
For most of us in Recovery, the Super Bowl tends to bring back memories—blurry and often unpleasant memories, but memories nonetheless. That was certainly the case for me. Once a year on a Sunday in February, I celebrated America’s favorite pastime, football, with a day of drunken stammering, stumbling and vision-impaired plays. Super Bowl Sunday was one of those rare, magical days when intoxicated debauchery was socially acceptable, and you can bet I never passed up the opportunity to chug a beer or two (or 20!) with the worst of ‘em.
My first Super Bowl sober was in 2005. I’d been in recovery for “14 days” at the Cleveland Clinic and I was still at a point when I was thinking that 12-Step Meetings, Sponsors and Abstinence was a temporary thing that I could probably, just maybe, manage. Controlling alcohol? Nope, not for me…Luckily, my Higher Power had other plans, and I’ve been clean and sober ever since.
Over my past 12 years in Recovery I’ve watched every Super Bowl and have some ideas that may help those in early-to-long-term recovery enjoy the game substance-free.
6 Tips for Keeping Your Head in the “Recovery Game” and Avoiding Relapse
1.Go to a Meeting before the start of the game
Before the big game, go to an NA or AA meeting during the week with your sponsor and organize a watch party with those in 12-Step recovery. Remember that the one who hosts the “Sober Bowl” must (yes, MUST!) have a backyard with BBQ Grill and at least one 60″ Flat-Screen.
2. Put together a party committee for refreshments and appetizers
This should include plans for the main mealtime with good “Half-Time” food. Hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwursts are the norm, but for us in recovery, we tend to want to go to extremes or excess like back when we were active in our addictions. That said, I recommend preparing the following:
- Steak sandwiches on garlic bread
- Extreme nachos with the works
- Popcorn (either sweet or with cheese or both)
- Hot sauce (“all types, all brands”)
- Chicken wings
- More wings
- Cucumber salad with yogurt dill-garlic sauce (to combat the hot sauce)
- Chips and dip
- And, of course, lots of guacamole (because you can never have too much guac!)
3. Steer clear of “near beer” and “mocktails”
As for refreshments, be careful of the “trigger drinks”, such as non-alcoholic beer and Virgin-type cocktails. Those in early recovery tend to have a short-term memory and certain mocktails may end up playing too much with the addict’s sense of smell and taste. If you’re hosting the event or if you’re on the refreshment committee, go for a smoothie setup to start, then focus on either Pepsi or Coke for the second quarter to halftime and taper-off during the third to fourth quarter with Seltzers/Club soda with extra lime.
4. Avoid betting on the game
Stay away from betting money or anything of monetary value because studies have shown that those with a substance use disorder tend to also have gambling issues as well. Instead, award prizes for best performance and worst play per quarter, etc.
5. Bring on the desserts!
As for the Alcoholics in Recovery like me, we tend to love sweets. So desserts and more deserts for all! If your Sober Bowl doesn’t resemble the Willie Wonka Factory on steroids, then you’re doing it wrong. ‘Cause you can never have enough dessert…
6. Invite the ladies (and the gents)
Best to mix it up with the brotherhood and sisterhood of recovery because stag parties are boring! Plus, a sober Super Bowl party can help those who are struggling in early recovery by showing them that even though we’re in Recovery, we can still have fun.
This being my 12th Super Bowl Party, I will try to make it my best. But I’ll also always remember that I should only focus on today.
About Reade Hulburd:
Reade is a Community Relations Representative at Las Vegas Recovery Center. When not watching football, Reade can be found at Valley of Fire or Death Valley. You can follow Reade on LinkedIn for updates on the many LVRC events and projects he has planned. Reade has been sober since January 14, 2005.
About Las Vegas Recovery Center:
Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) is a pain recovery and drug and alcohol addiction recovery program located in northwest Las Vegas, Nevada. For questions to or to speak to an admissions counselor, please call our 24-hour hotline. We look forward to speaking with you!