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Tailgating and Football: How To Enjoy the Game Without the Hangover

A group of people gather around a grill in a parking lot to tailgate before a football game.
Yes, you can watch the big game without beer—and have fun.


Oh weren’t those the days. You’d meet up with your friends, kick back a few (OK more than a few) beers and then watch the game. Great times.

But is that really how it all went down? Did you ever get in a fight, drive when you had too much or show up at work hung-over the next day? Did you ever come home from the game and keep drinking? Then wake up and hate yourself all over again.

So let’s get one thing straight, it’s common to look back on drinking days and see only the fun while forgetting the rest. In fact, it’s so common there’s even a term for it—romancing the drink.

The point is, you should at least consider the possibility that you could actually have more fun watching football without alcohol. Here are a few strategies to help you come up with a game plan of your own.

Spin Tunes

Taking care of the playlist will not only keep your hands busy. It will also prevent other people from playing “Bon Appétit” by Katy Perry.

What’s more, music has been proven to make you feel good. That’s because—just like alcohol—it can release mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. Unlike alcohol, however, it doesn’t require a payback of your health and happiness.

Play Games

If your get-together is at someone’s home, plan some action for the pre-game. While your buds are downing Buds, you’ll be stretching and mentally preparing (OK, that’s maybe a little much.)

Anyway, by the time you get to corn hole, their coordination will be a little off. But you, you’ll be killing it. You might even get them to put a little money on the game.

Even if they resort to football drinking games, you’re still likely to have the upper hand. Just make sure and find yourself something to drink, which leads to our next point …

Hello Caffeine!

Sometimes you just need something besides water or a soda. Iced coffee a Red Bull or even a lemonade can get the job done for some.

Remember that, while it may seem like everyone else is drinking, a study done by the University of Minnesota found that 48 percent of fans drink at a sporting event.

But guess what that means? A full 52 percent of people are—just like you—not drinking.

Be the Grill Guy or Gal

This is one of those things you either enjoy or you don’t. But if you do, you can mix it up beyond burgers and dogs. Although it really doesn’t seem like tailgating is Martha Stewart’s thing, she does have a pretty delicious spareribs recipe.

Remind Yourself

Just like life, much of this situation will be what you make it. Put yourself in the right mind-set by reminding yourself …

  • Why you quit drinking
  • That you like your friends and you like football. You’re not going in for a root canal for crying out loud.
  • How you’re going to feel when you wake up tomorrow morning. Bright. Alive. Healthy. In control. Contrast that with how you used to feel after a bad night.
  • That you’re strong and getting stronger every day.
  • That you can smile and laugh and joke. In other words, you can have fun.

A New Path at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House offers both individual and group therapy by master’s level trained counselors, a prime location in the heart of Denver and a whole-person approach to recovery. Fill out our form or call today for more information on the drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs at The Raleigh House.

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