Chicago Throws Sober Super Bowl Extravaganza

By McCarton Ackerman 02/04/13

The Salvation Army hosts a booze-free watch party for recovering addicts and their families.

A fan cheers a Baltimore touchdown.

Not everyone is nursing a hangover the morning after the big game. The Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center in Chicago threw a sober Super Bowl party last night, where roughly 300 recovering addicts and other sober football fans enjoyed the game, noshing on 100 pizzas donated by local eatery Home Run Inn. Eric Goplerud, senior vice president of Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Criminal Justice Studies at NORC at the University of Chicago, says events like this are important because many football watchers associate the game with alcohol, which could put them in tempting and potentially dangerous situations. "[A sober party] provides an opportunity to get together with other people who are in recovery in a social, exciting event where alcohol is not necessary to fuel or support camaraderie and having a good time," says Goplerud. "It reinforces that sobriety can be fun." For others, it's a chance to spend a sober evening together with loved ones, and even make amends. Sports fan David Bahena says he attended the party with girlfriend Diana Valencia, who is helping him overcome a recent relapse, after his crack cocaine and alcohol addiction once left him homeless. "They go through the hardship [too]," says Bahena, of his girlfriend and their son. "I have to step back and say that even though to everybody else it's nothing, it's just a drink, to me it's something lethal that could send my whole family down the drain."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.