Staying Sober Tips: Tackling Your Addiction While Watching Sports

There is nothing quite like sports fans; they are passionate, devoted, and constantly eager to support their teams.

The sports community is made up of a wide range of people, from ardent supporters to casual spectators. They have joyous and depressing moments. If you’re an American and you’re watching sports, chances are you probably have an alcoholic beverage in your hand.

Many questions might be raised regarding sports fans’ drinking patterns. Who among the fans drinks the most? When are they drinking the most? What about using marijuana?

The answers to these and other inquiries provide a picture of the relationship between sports viewing and drug usage.

Missouri hosts several sports teams, as it’s a major hub for professional sports including hockey, baseball, and now soccer. The state is home to six major league sports teams — three in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and three in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

This includes the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, Sporting Kansas City (Sporting KC), St. Louis Blues, St. Louis Cardinals, and the newest addition, the St. Louis City Soccer Club (St. Louis CITY SC) Major League Soccer expansion franchise that is expected to begin to play in 2023 at Citypark in St. Louis.

The question is, is alcohol and sports a match made in heaven?

Although watching sports is a fun activity for people of all ages and backgrounds, attending games or watch parties could create challenges if you’re recovering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

At Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri, our treatment programs and resources are available to help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and manage mental illness.

We’ll help you understand the link between sporting events and alcohol consumption, and we’ll provide lots of staying sober tips you can use to enjoy sports without drinking.

Is There a Link Between Watching Sports and Consuming Alcohol?

staying sober tips

In the United States and around the world, research shows that watching sports is strongly linked to alcohol consumption. A recent survey by Harris Insights and Analytics found that more than 80% of people consume alcohol while watching football at the stadium or on TV. Even though it’s less common to drink alcohol at tennis events, 75% of viewers indicated that they consumed alcohol at live tennis matches.

Across the globe, sporting events are routinely sponsored by alcoholic beverage brands, and viewing alcohol advertising is associated with higher alcohol consumption. In some countries, alcohol brands have nearly 300 advertising deals with athletic organizations. Beer brands account for approximately 89% of the alcohol sponsorship for some sporting events.

How Do Sporting Events Create Challenges for People in Recovery?

Sporting events often include lots of social pressure to drink, and this environment can be difficult for individuals in recovery. Friends and guests may consume large amounts of alcohol during the games, and it can be hard to avoid alcohol advertisements and discounted drinks. In particular, attending games in person could be triggering, and couch surfing may increase the temptation to drink.

From drink specials to tailgating parties, attending sporting events can be incredibly challenging for people in recovery. If you’re surrounded by friends, family, and strangers who are drinking at the game, you could experience temptation, peer pressure, and cravings. Alcohol-related sights, sounds, and smells could trigger you, and people at the game might ask you why you’re not drinking. Tailgating hosts might offer you drinks.

These experiences could cause you to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. It’s important to understand that you’re not alone. Whether you’re just starting your recovery or have been sober for years, watching sports can be triggering for anyone.

Just like attending sporting events, couch surfing could make it harder to stay sober. It’s recognized as a form of homelessness, and many couch surfers may not know where they’re going to stay from one day to the next. This housing insecurity creates feelings of hopelessness that could lead to alcohol consumption. Some couch surfers may find that they start watching sports a lot, and this could contribute to alcohol cravings.

What Should I Know About Staying Sober at Sporting Events?

Whether you’re attending the game at a stadium or watching the event on TV, it helps to have accountability and support. You may want to plan for how you’ll deal with potential triggers, and you should inform your sponsor and trusted friends at the event.

Being the designated driver is one of the most effective ways to stay sober at the stadium. It’s an important responsibility, and the people in your group will appreciate you for volunteering for this task.

To take your mind off of alcohol, you may want to enjoy some of the food at the game. You should choose a non-alcoholic drink to have during the game. If it helps, write down your choice so that you’ll remember it when you’re at the stadium.

If you’re attending the game alone or with others who don’t plan to drink, consider sitting in the non-alcoholic section of the stadium. The seats in these areas tend to be cheaper, and sitting in this section may significantly reduce temptation and peer pressure at the game.

For even more support, look into sober sports tours. These events allow you to meet other people in recovery. You can share your love of sports with them, and the tours provide recovery meetings, itineraries, and accommodations.

In general, watching sports on TV involves less pressure and temptation than going to the stadium. If you’re attending a watch party at a friend’s house, write your name on a disposable cup, and keep the cup with you at all times. When party attendees see that you already have a cup and that your hands are full, they’ll be less likely to offer you a drink.

Try to find other sober people at the party, and talk with them as much as you can. To keep your mind occupied, offer to refill the snack bowls or help out with dishes.

Make sure to leave the party right after the game ends. By the time the game is over, many attendees might not be sober, and it could be more difficult to avoid triggers. Before the party, tell the host about your plans to leave early. If you need to provide a reason, say that you have an appointment the next day.

How Can People Recover From Alcohol Use Disorders?

staying sober tips

To recover from alcohol use disorders, individuals need community, purpose, and a stable, safe home. In addition, they must make informed choices that support their overall well-being.

To begin the journey to recovery, the individual must recognize that he or she has become dependent on alcohol. Once the person recognizes that there is a problem, he or she should meet with a healthcare professional to find out about the most appropriate treatment options. It is also important to have the support of family and friends during recovery.

Where Do People Receive Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders?

People who are recovering from alcohol use disorders can receive inpatient or outpatient treatment. Typically, the choice of treatment depends on overall health and the severity of a person’s symptoms.

Inpatient treatment provides a safe, structured environment for recovery, and it involves staying at a residential facility for 30 days or more. Most inpatient facilities provide supervised detox (withdrawal) programs. After completing residential treatment, clients may transition to sober living facilities or outpatient treatment.

For outpatient treatment, clients attend meetings and therapy sessions at treatment centers several times a week. This form of treatment allows clients to stay in their own homes. Partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient treatment may be available at some facilities. Typically, these programs offer treatment sessions for several hours a day, and clients go to the facility daily.

What Does Treatment Involve?

For most patients, treatment for alcohol use disorder involves a combination of medication and counseling. Treatment requires a personalized approach, and the client’s overall health, living situation, and goals are considered in treatment planning.

Medications can ease withdrawal symptoms, and they are also prescribed to prevent future alcohol use. Long-acting benzodiazepines reduce symptoms during the detox period, and anti-epileptic medicines may be prescribed to prevent seizures during withdrawal.

Naltrexone might be prescribed after withdrawal. In general, it is recommended for patients who have been treated for alcohol use disorder more than once. The medicine blocks the pleasant effects of alcohol. If a person consumes alcohol during treatment with naltrexone, he or she won’t feel well, and there won’t be any “buzz” from the alcohol.

Disulfiram is another medication that could be considered after the patient completes detox. It was the first medicine to receive FDA approval for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Disulfiram works by making a person very sick if he or she consumes alcohol. It can cause fevers and nausea, and it increases the heart rate.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy are some of the most commonly used psychotherapy methods for alcohol use disorder treatment.

CBT for substance abuse helps clients understand how their thoughts and emotions affect their alcohol use and behaviors. Once this process is understood, clients learn to identify the types of thought patterns that lead them to alcohol use. With practice, clients replace these thought patterns with healthier patterns that are less likely to result in alcohol consumption.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches clients to understand the emotional triggers for their alcohol use. Therapy sessions help clients with developing coping mechanisms that don’t involve alcohol. Therapists encourage their clients to talk about stressful experiences so that they can make positive changes in their lives. Clients learn strategies that promote healthy relationships in recovery.

Acceptance and commitment therapy helps clients learn to accept the past and events that cannot be changed. Therapists teach clients how to use mindfulness techniques to focus on the future. This type of therapy gives clients a sense of control over their choices.

How Can Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center Help With Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery?

Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center in Missouri offers inpatient treatment, outpatient detox, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs. The center provides treatment for co-occurring disorders, and family programs are available. Clinicians at the center can assist with staging interventions. After completing treatment, individuals in recovery can transition to Sana Lake’s supportive housing options.

Sana Lake’s inpatient and outpatient treatment programs include medication to improve symptoms. Before prescribing medications, clinicians will help patients understand the risks and benefits of each medication option.

Individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy sessions are part of the recovery process at Sana Lake, and people with alcohol use disorders also receive peer support and psychiatric services. The center provides telehealth consultations, and Sana Lake’s one-step app helps clients stay connected to their care team throughout the recovery process.

Sana Lake uses a recovery-oriented system of care. Patients are called “members,” and they take an active role in their recovery planning. Clinicians treat members with respect, and members are offered multiple support networks that enable them to make positive returns to work and family life after treatment.

If you’re looking for alcohol use disorder treatment, we invite you to consider becoming a member of our community at Sana Lake Recovery Center. Our team members are available by phone 24 hours a day. When you call, we can help you understand your treatment options. We would be honored to be part of your recovery journey.