For a huge percentage of people who look to better themselves through addiction recovery, this is an ongoing process that requires dedication. While this process may begin with themes like inpatient recovery or detox programs, part of the long-running goal of addiction recovery is to be able to return to normal life in safe, productive ways that don’t risk relapse or related triggers.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to help you with this theme every step of the way. We offer not only a variety of inpatient addiction recovery programs for our Boise patients, but also outpatient and long-term counseling services that help you stay connected and manage any issues you’re having along the way.
Some of our patients face common challenges as they look to get back into the normal swing of things during their recovery. One frequent such challenge: Attending things like sporting events, which can often serve as triggers for things like alcohol or even drug relapse. Luckily, with the right approaches, you can still enjoy events like these without risking your sobriety — here are some general tips for doing so.
Identify Your Triggers Ahead of Time
Well before you even attend a sporting event, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what your triggers are and how they might present themselves. If you’re someone who struggles with alcohol abuse, for example, then being in an environment full of people drinking can obviously serve as a trigger for relapse.
Part of addressing triggers is identifying them before they have a chance to take effect. If you’re not sure what yours are, talk to your counselor or another trusted individual in your life; they may be able to help you identify them. Once you know what they are, you can begin to develop a plan for how to address them.
Have a Plan
As we just touched on, once you know what your triggers are, you need to have a plan for how to address them. This may involve things like attending the event with someone who can help keep you accountable, or making sure to avoid areas of the stadium or arena that are more likely to trigger your cravings.
It’s also important to have an exit strategy in place. If you find yourself in a situation that’s starting to make you feel uncomfortable, it’s crucial to know how you’re going to get out of it. This may involve leaving the event entirely, or simply moving to a different area.
Be Selective About Which Events to Attend
As you’re just getting back into the swing of things, it may be a good idea to be selective about which sporting events you actually attend. If you’re worried about being triggered by attending a football game, for example, then it may be best to stick to smaller events like minor league baseball games.
You don’t have to attend every event that you’re invited to — in fact, it may be better for your sobriety if you don’t. Pick and choose the ones that you feel most comfortable with, and don’t hesitate to say no to the ones that make you feel uneasy.
Involve Your Sponsor or Support System
A huge part of staying sober is having a strong support system in place, and this theme extends to attending sporting events. If you have a sponsor or other support system in place, involve them in your plans for attending the event.
This may mean attending the event together, or simply checking in with them before and after to let them know how things went. Either way, their involvement can help hold you accountable and provide an extra level of support if you find yourself in a difficult situation.
Be the Designated Driver
While you should only take this step if you’re sure you’ll be comfortable around others who imbibe while you abstain, serving as the designated driver for your group can be a great way to stay sober at sporting events.
This involves making a commitment ahead of time to not drink alcohol, and then sticking to it — even if everyone else in your group is drinking. Not only does this help you avoid triggers, but it also ensures that everyone in your group will have a safe ride home.
Bring (Or Buy) An Alcohol-Free Drink
For some people, the simple sensation of having a drink in their hand at a sporting event is a major trigger. If this is the case for you, make sure to bring an alcohol-free drink with you to help combat this sensation.
This could be something as simple as a soda or seltzer water, or something more elaborate like an alcohol-free beer. Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s something that won’t trigger you to drink again. If the venue you’re attending doesn’t allow outside drinks, see if they have any alcohol-free options available.
Start New (Or Renew Old) Traditions
Alcohol or drug consumption before or during sporting events can become something of a ritual for some people, so it’s important to find new rituals or traditions to take its place.
If you used to drink before the game, try tailgating with some sober friends and grilling out instead. Or, if you always drank during the game, start a new tradition of getting up and stretching your legs every few innings.
Finally, it’s absolutely vital to stick to your guns and be assertive about your sobriety — even if that means saying no to friends or family members. If someone offers you a drink, politely decline and explain that you’re in recovery.
If they press the issue, don’t hesitate to walk away or remove yourself from the situation entirely. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to addiction recovery, so don’t be afraid to put your sobriety first.
For those looking to reintegrate into their normal activities during addiction recovery, including sporting events, doing so is easily possible — with the right attention to detail. For more on this, or to learn about any of our support structures or long-term addiction recovery services in or around Boise, speak to the caring staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.