Four years ago, I joined a fantasy football league.
My first pick was on suspension for seven games. My second pick had torn his ACL and was out for the year. My third pick was a little-used back-up receiver. It wasn’t that I was not a football fan and didn’t know my stuff, I was just drunk when I drafted. So drunk, in fact, that my husband had to finish my picks after I passed out.
Football season is hard for anyone who suffers from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). It’s synonymous with drinking beer and, in my house on the West Coast, an excuse for early mimosas. The television ads are saturated – like I used to be – with alcohol commercials. While it may seem difficult, if not impossible, for a person with AUD to also be a football fan, it can be done in a way that is safe and fun. Here are five tips for staying sober during football season.
The first tip is simple: just stay home and watch the game. Paying attention to what is actually happening on the field will take your mind off what you think you’re missing. Find a sober friend or family member to join you and watch the game from the comfort of your living room. The best part of staying home is that you get to make your own itinerary for game day. For example, I like to make homemade pizza or cookies and then nap – a “real” nap – through the second half of the game.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers some very sensible suggestions for attending uncomfortable parties, such as taking two cars, bringing a sober friend, keeping a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at all times, and leaving when you feel like it. You hear these suggestions all the time, and may even scoff at them, but they’ve been around for a long time because they work. If you are invited to a football watching party or tailgate, keep your toolbox stocked.
If you’re in the mood for something festive, create a signature mocktail just for you or anyone else who wants to try a non-alcoholic drink. My favorites are a Diet Roy Rogers with a splash of lime juice, sparkling water with various Torani syrups and Caribbean-inspired fruit juice. In fact, I carry around a flask – yes, a flask – filled with grenadine when I attend functions.
Service doesn’t just mean making coffee at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. It means escaping from your head and helping others. At a football party or tailgate, this could mean preparing and passing food to guests (avoid filling the wine glasses) or clearing plates. If there are kids around, help them put on their own skit at halftime. You will be amazed at how much fun helping others can be.
If sitting in a closed space surrounded by other drinkers or endless alcohol ads seems impossible, watch something else, like a nice Rom-Com or that new Netflix series you’ve been meaning to start. Better yet, leave the house, if weather allows it, and take a hike through the beautiful fall environment. Being active in the fresh air is one of the best things you can do for your sobriety.