Hut Hut Hike—Super Bowls Drunk and Sober

Hut Hut Hike—Super Bowls Drunk and Sober

By Seth Ferranti 01/27/15

A Super Bowl party in recovery requires more caution than before, but it's still one of the best nights of the year.

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On our national consciousness this week is Super Bowl XLIX—New England Patriots versus Seattle Seahawks. The media has been saturated with stories centering around Super Bowl Sunday and all the events scheduled. In the weeks leading up to the game, many people would think that nothing else matters in the United States. That’s because watching the Super Bowl is mandatory in America. 

People in this country plan their lives around the Super Bowl and the activities that surround it. It’s one of the most watched sporting events in the world, drawing close to 100 million viewers. And in the United States, well-planned, elaborate parties have become the norm to honor the big game. Bars, civic centers and restaurants hold festivities geared toward watching the climactic battle of the NFL’s elite. Food and drink is a necessity. Good times for all. It’s a celebration of life of sorts. With Super Bowl parties completing the experience of watching the much hyped contest, it’s become a national pastime.

I have always been very much into sports and have always loved football, the NFL in particular. Although I haven’t followed football much this year, due to just being released from prison, residing in a halfway house and spending most of my waking hours working, I am going to make damn sure that I watch the Super Bowl. How could I miss one of our country’s biggest sporting spectacles? Especially, since I am signing out of the halfway house on January 27. Finally, I will be home, free at last. Well, not really, because I am still on probation, but it will be the most freedom I have tasted in the last 21 years. Perfect timing for Super Bowl Sunday. 

As soon as my friends and family found out I was getting released from the halfway house the week of the Super Bowl, the invitations started rolling in. All on social media, of course. Some friends invited me to their homes, some to bars, some to bigger parties. Everyone wanted me to come watch the momentous event with them. I was really flattered and overwhelmed, too. My Facebook page was lighting up. 

I had planned to just chill at home and watch the game with my wife. Because what goes on at most Super Bowl parties is not the scene that I want to be exposed to—drinking and drugging and eating and partying—then more drinking and some more drugging. Due to the fact that I am on probation this is something that I should really avoid. Fresh out of the joint I could become overwhelmed.

But bigger than that, is the fact that I am a recovering addict. Do I really want to put myself in a party environment with major temptations as I reenter society and try to adapt back to regular life? Up until now, my life has been structured and regulated by the halfway house. I have been drug-tested twice a week and breathalyzed regularly. I have attended drug aftercare classes twice a week. My movements have been monitored by halfway house staff who checked to make sure that I was working and was where I was supposed to be at all times. These were the conditions of my release and I have abided by them faithfully. Even when I graduated to house arrest I was still held to these conditions. The nightly phone calls and checking in by phone every two hours, but now…

Like I said, I love sports. Always have. In prison, we had big Super Bowl parties and when I was out in the world, prior to my incarceration, the Super Bowl was just another excuse to get fucked up. Sometimes, I would get so fucked up that I would pass out before the game was over. I remember drinking and smoking marijuana all day, from the moment I woke up, and calling it a great time, the best years of my life. And on top of all that the Super Bowl, too? Life couldn’t get any better. But during my lengthy prison term I changed. I grew up, so to speak, but now facing the temptations of the world I find myself reverting to form.

I won’t lie, I want to go to a Super Bowl party. I want to drink some beers, hang out with my friends and family, partying. I want to live the high life, the dream that is sold to the masses in so many beer commercials. I don’t necessarily want to do drugs, because dirty urine will violate the terms of my probation and get me sent back to prison, but drinking alcohol is allowed under the terms of my release. So, the temptation is there and it is strong. 

I am legal, I keep telling myself. Drinking some beers won’t get me sent back to prison. I deserve to drink a couple of beers. It’s the Super Bowl for crying out loud. That’s what all the normal people are doing, drinking and partying, eating and watching the big game. The Super Bowl has become synonymous with the Super Bowl party and everyone knows that alcohol is the biggest thing at a party. Or, at least that’s how I think.

I have to think that way because I am not a normal person. I am an ex-felon on probation, still in recovery and trying to live clean and sober in a world where consumption and excess surrounds me. I have to ask myself will drinking one beer or two beers lead me back to drugs or prison? I don’t know, but is it really worth the risk? Anyone who has experienced addiction knows that one beer can lead to two and then three and the next thing you know, I am smoking a joint. A total relapse, all because I went to a Super Bowl party and put myself in that environment. It’s OK for the people who do it socially. That is what they say at least, but for people like me, drug addicts and alcoholics and criminals and those who have self-destructive tendencies, it definitely isn’t OK.

However much I want to convince myself that I am normal, I am not. I want to scream out that I am reformed, that I am cured, that I can live like a regular person, but the fact of the matter is that my past behavior, drug abuse and criminal lifestyle dictates that I have to be careful of the types of situations and environments I put myself in. However much I yearn to go to a Super Bowl party and make my debut back into society and reenter my friends' world, it’s probably better that I don’t. Because they are not drug addicts and I am.

I can just see it now, “Dude, when did you get back?” My convict friends would ask me when I hit the pound. “I got violated. Can you believe it all started with a beer at a Super Bowl party?” I would reply. It sounds farcical and I know that I am taking it to the extreme, but we all use different motivations to keep ourselves clean and sober. I am just relating my thought process and what I am experiencing in case it might help someone else. Relapse is a process and it doesn’t start with drinking the beer or smoking a joint or doing a hit of meth or putting the needle in your vein. It starts before that. It’s the lead up, the justifications, the excuses, the reasons and how we blame everything else but ourselves for what is happening in our lives. It’s about that feeling of entitlement, like, "Yeah, I deserve to have a beer."

For an addict it mostly comes down to a thinking problem. I know I have a thinking problem and when I do drugs or use alcohol it complicates my thinking problem. It makes me start thinking that I can do whatever I want. It makes me start thinking I can get away with whatever I want. It makes me start thinking that I don’t have a drug or alcohol problem. 

I don’t look at the consequences of my actions, I just look at what I want in the moment. When I am using, what I want the most is to get fucked up. I know this. It is who I am. I am the type of person that when I walk on the edge of that cliff anything can happen. Add drugs and alcohol to the equation and taking the step off the edge of the cliff becomes a distinct possibility. A possibility that can lead back to prison, or worse—death.

So a Super Bowl party, you say? Well, that is on you, just like it’s on each and every individual in life. No one can make my choices for me. I must live and die by the decisions I make. I just plan to be clean and sober when I make them. A Super Bowl party might be doable when you are in recovery, but it comes down to the individual and how they feel about it. For me, right now at this very vulnerable time in my life, I think I will pass up all the invitations. I know I will definitely pass on going out to a bar. I will just stay at home with my wife, chill and watch the game. I mean, I am still an American and I am still a football fan. Being in recovery and staying clean and sober doesn’t mean I can’t watch the game. 

It just means that I have to take one day at a time and be very careful when choosing friends and the type of environments I put myself in. Living sober isn’t easy, but I know if I want to make it, that is how I have to live. Because I can’t go under my addiction, I can’t go over it, I can’t go around it, I have to go through it. Each and every day, I have to remember who I am and what I am capable of in the throes of addiction. You might say, it’s just a Super Bowl party, but for those of use with addictions, a Super Bowl party can be detrimental to our recovery.

Seth Ferranti has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2012. He most recently wrote about being sober after 21 years in prisonHe also writes for Vice. He has a book out—The Supreme Team.

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