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Sober Fun on Super Bowl Sunday

-Cara O’Neill, Hanley Center at Origins


Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year, and it’s the perfect time for sober people to have some serious fun. As a person in recovery, I feel like there is always some event or day that we are told to consider a “temptation” or something we may need to avoid. On the contrary, I have found that recovery is about living life, not about avoiding temptation.

The original 12 Step basic text offers a few guidelines when venturing out to events like a Super Bowl Party. The guideline I rely on most is, “assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do.” A person in recovery can easily find out if they are spiritually fit by asking their sponsor. They will generally be happy to relay their thoughts. (If the person doesn’t have a sponsor, that may be a good indication of where they are spiritually.)

Experience shows that when addicts in recovery find a sponsor and start working the 12 Steps rigorously, they are soon given the freedom to go anywhere and do anything.

I am a huge football fan. I have been watching sports my entire life. Before I got sober, it was suggested by my group of friends that I avoid drinking during football games. Saying I was a belligerent drunk would have been an understatement. I even have a recollection of throwing everything I owned with my team’s logo in the backyard after a loss. Another time, I picked up an iron and threw it into the wall. Before I sobered up, I never coped very well with losing.  When I finally stopped drinking during games, they all stopped drinking too. They knew I was on shaky ground and they offered up a ton of support.

During this time I mastered the art of making superb game day food and I discovered a plethora of tasty drinks that did not contain alcohol. Who knew?

One of the best Super Bowl Parties I ever attended in sobriety was at a treatment center I worked at. Most of the staff came in for it and we cooked a bunch of great food and watched the game. One of the clients was pretty devastated after her team lost. She was going through a lot at the time, and so she was really feeling the disappointment. I spent about an hour with her after the game. We didn’t do much but talk, which was really great. The Big Book tells us, “do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it.” I do my best to live by this rule. My self-centered attitude had to be smashed.

Today, I ask myself, “What can I do to make this Super Bowl Party more enjoyable for others? How can I be of service in all aspects of my life?”

If any of you are doubting that you can stay sober through football season and all its big games, just know that I am a Dolphin’s fan and even I remained sober through it. When we become spiritually fit we can and will enjoy the Super Bowl, no matter what the circumstances!


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