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Enjoying College Football while Staying Sober
Millions of college students in the U.S. anticipate the start of their school’s football season all year long. But for students recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, football season can bring forth many challenges.
Abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age can often lead to a spiraling addiction, even well before college. In 2014, prescription drug abuse was highest among teens and young adults. Almost 60 percent of surveyed teens and young adults drank alcohol in the month prior to the study.
From pregaming to tailgating parties and the pressure to attain the “traditional college experience,” football season comes with numerous temptations for recovering students from falling back into old habits. This is especially true in large cities where college football is tremendously popular, such as Houston.
Staying sober during football season is 100 percent possible. With a little bit of planning and support from loved ones, you can keep your recovery on a winning streak – and still have a great time cheering on your team.
Make a Game Day Strategy
Whether you’re attending a tailgate or joining friends at a party, establishing a plan can help you from becoming overwhelmed. Having a plan also makes you far less likely to relapse.
Before the next game day, take some time to think through potential situations that may arise – and what you’ll do to handle them. Ask yourself the following questions:
- If someone offers me a drink or drug, can I trust myself to turn it down?
- Am I far enough in my recovery to resist temptation on my own?
- Will I be surrounded by people who understand my situation, or will I be around others who might encourage me to break my sobriety?
- Is there someone I can reach out to for support or in case of an emergency?
If you’re unsure of how to answer questions like these, it may be helpful to attend a local support meeting before the game. That way, you’ll begin the weekend with the extra motivation and encouragement needed to face any challenges you’ll encounter during the day.
Draft A Support System
Overcoming an addiction while in college is an arduous and difficult journey, even during recovery. But the good news is that you’re not alone. There are tons of students facing many of the same obstacles you go through every day. In fact, there might be more students like you than you may think.
Many schools are becoming keenly aware of substance addiction in college students and have responded by making sure the right resources are there for those in recovery. In 2016, around 150 colleges and universities in 49 states were reported to offer substance-free living communities and activities for recovering students on campus. This means that making friends with fellow students who are also in recovery is easier than ever before.
When you attend a college football tailgate or party with sober friends, you each have the same level of understanding and goals in mind. You’ll be able to support each other should one of you be triggered to drink or do drugs.
Recovery First Tailgaters
Other organizations have come together on campus to make sure recovering students are included in all of the game day fun. Founded by St. Christopher’s Addiction Wellness Center in Louisiana, Recovery First Tailgaters inspires people that it’s possible to have a great time at college football games while staying sober. The tailgates provide free food, games and other entertainment for students, their families and football fans alike. Since their first event in 2012 on Louisiana State University’s campus, other colleges throughout the nation have held Recovery First Tailgates, including the University of Texas, University of Georgia and University of Alabama.
Kick Off Your Own Party
If you’re still worried about the risks of relapsing, why not host your own celebration? Having your own tailgate or party can take away a lot of pressure you’d normally face on game day. Plus, it keeps your mind off of substance abuse and focused on the great time you’ll have with friends.
Here are some tips to making sure your party’s a success:
- Invite friends to bring food or snacks, but ask they leave the alcohol at home. You can have an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages available. If it’s chilly outside, make some hot cocoa to warm everyone up. If it’s hot, make some fruit punch.
- Provide plenty of games and entertainment. You’ll never miss with a good old game of corn hole or even cards.
- Hold a friendly competition to shake things up. Try a ping-pong match, or a cook-off to see who can make the best pizza bagels in your dorm.
Staying Focused On Recovery
Although the temptations that arrive with college football season are tough to overcome, you should be proud of yourself for all the progress you’ve made in your ongoing recovery. Facing obstacles helps strengthen your resistance against the toxic habits that once caused your addiction. Focusing on having fun with friends and the excitement of football season will ensure your recovery is a touchdown.
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