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Super Bowl 2014

Super Bowl 2014

Monday, January 12, 2015 Author: John W. Herdman, Ph. D., LADC Categories: Behavioral Health, Clean Living, Relapse Prevention
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Here is a story, Marks story. Struggling with addiction is not an easy thing to do. From a cognitive-behavioral therapy point of view, Mark is learning that it takes serenity to accept that he does not control things outside of himself the he, she, it, them. It takes courage to change the three things that he does control his own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. And, it takes real wisdom to know the difference. As a take on what Aristotle has said about anger, I like to apply his words to abstinence: Anyone can become sober. That is easy. But to be sober with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.  Please enjoy Marks story as a true effort to change ones thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

This is the way it WAS.

Wow! Its Super Bowl time again. Sunday February 2, 2014. As an avid sports man, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle for me. Id go to the end of the Earth to watch the Super Bowl. Its the last football game of the season. The best of the best!

The excitement for the game is always strong in our house. The food; the commercials; fun with the family; and, of course, the game itself. This year is especially exciting for me since my three year-old son is starting to understand football. Ive been getting him ready to root for the Broncos with dad. Its not that I am a huge fan of the Broncos, but I dislike the Seahawks.

Its the night before the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. My wife and I are getting our list together for the food that we will prepare. My homemade hamburger nachos are my signature tail gate or get together dish. This of course is on top of my list. Piled high on tortilla chips are a mixture of Velveeta cheese, hamburger and salsa, mixed and heated together in a crock pot.  Add shredded lettuce and jalapeños to top it off. Yummy. I could eat those every day. My wife is not a huge fan of the jalapeños, so I have to add those afterwards just for me. My wife likes to make a veggie tray of celery, carrots, olives, peppers, broccoli and pickles. After that we add to the list a few items we need for the house like milk, juice, eggs, bread and chicken nuggets for the kids. With the list done, Im off to the grocery store. The excitement is building for the game. I tell my wife to call if she thinks of anything else.

Driving to the store, listening to my favorite talk-sports show, all they are talking about is the game. My excitement starts to build even more. I start thinking about what Im going to do before the game to make the time go quicker. Take the kids to the park. Maybe take them to a movie. All the while, I plan what time to make the nachos and sit down for the big game.

As I pull into the parking lot, I immediately notice all the cars. Everyone must have the same idea as me getting ready for the super bowl. I park my car and start to walk towards the entrance. As I walk, I start to notice that many people are not only carrying groceries, but also carrying beer and other types of alcohol.  No problem. Ive been sober for weeks. Being a recovering alcoholic, I remember those days when Id be doing that as well. Instead of my nachos being on top of my list, a big bottle of vodka would be there instead. Not now though, Im too excited about my food and the big game. I tell myself I dont need alcohol. Im going to enjoy the game with my family and actually remember it.

I walk into the store and can feel the excitement. People everywhere getting food, talking about the game, asking their friends what they want to eat. Just looking happy.

I grab a cart and head right to the produce section. I check my list. First are the veggies. Celery check. Carrots check. Broccoli check. Jalapenos Check. Wow. They have Bronco orange peppers! I grab one orange and one green pepper. On my way to the dairy section, I pass the meat section and grab two pounds of the 93% hamburger. Next I get milk and cheese and notice the ranch dip for the veggies that werent on my list. I think, Good work. I dont want to come back here tomorrow when it will be even busier. Ive been on a roll shopping for items for the Super Bowl. Next, I go down the aisle and find pickles and bread. I start to head towards the salsa and tortilla chips. The aisle is packed. The store can hardly keep enough chips on the shelves. As Im waiting behind some people, I see a group of guys with a cart full of alcohol and beer. I overhear them talking about the game. What time they are going to meet up, what time they are going to start to grill, and, what time they are going to start drinking. I start to focus on the drinking part of their conversation. Heck, last year I probably started drinking when I woke up. It was Super Bowl Sunday after all. I tell myself, Not this year. I grab my chips and move on. Walking through the store getting the final things on my list, I cant help but notice all the beer and alcohol, beer and alcohol, beer and alcohol. Seems like every time I turn around there is an advertisement for beer with cases and cases piled high. Now my thoughts really start to go towards drinking. I tell myself Its only one day. Ill stop after that. Ive been doing good. I can handle it. Its the Super Bowl after all.

As I grab the last couple things on my list, I pass the beer and alcohol section of the grocery store. It is a separate store within a store. You can enter from the inside or the outside if all you want is alcohol. This section is packed. My mind starts racing. My thoughts are going in every direction. Is there anyone in there I know? I cant let anyone I know see me buy alcohol. I tell myself, I can get in and get out quick. No one will find out. Now the other side of my brain is saying Dont do this. You dont need it. Think of your family. I tell myself, No. Dont do it. Just get to the checkout line and get to my car. If I can just get to my car, I can forget about it and go home. All the while I know in the back of my mind that there will be another chance.

I get to a checkout line, and while waiting in line, all I can think about is the alcohol. It has overtaken my thinking. I havent thought about the game, the food, the commercials or my family in what feels like hours but in reality all of this took place in like 25 minutes. I finally get checked out and while walking to my car, all I see is the alcohol or beer people are carrying. I dont notice their clothes, what they look like, or their groceries. Only the alcohol. I force myself to get into my truck and get home. Get back to my safe place my family and the support I need. I turn the key, blow into my interlock device and the car starts. I pull out, and for no reason, drive over to the area with the door to the liquor department.

Its over. Without hesitation I go in, grab a bottle of Smirnoff vodka on the top shelf, go to the register, and walk back out. Ive done it so many times. I was in and out in like two minutes. I knew right where to go.

I get back into my truck and its like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No more back and forth thoughts. No mental battles. I have my vodka. Whats done is now done.

As I drive home I quickly grab the bottle and hide it under the back seat as Ive done many times before. Im now nervous that my wife might find it. I dont want my wife to know I bought it so I have to hide it from her.  All the way home I tell myself, Its only for the Super Bowl. I will just have a couple drinks and dump the rest out tomorrow after the game. I wont get drunk, just enough to enjoy the game a little more. 

I pull into the garage and make sure the bottle is still hidden. I take the groceries inside and start to put things away while I tell my wife how busy the store was. I keep watching her. Every time she moves towards the garage door, I think, She is going to go out and find my bottle. That would be awful. I couldnt stand it if she found out. Now Im not nervous about buying it Im nervous about getting caught. If she finds the bottle, I dont know what will happen but Im pretty sure my plan for watching the game with my family wont happen. Shell make me feel like a loser.

I keep watching the clock wanting it to go faster; waiting for my wife to go to bed. I just want to get to tomorrow. I can drink tomorrow.

The clock strikes 10 and my wife goes upstairs to get ready for bed. I feel relieved. She didnt find my vodka.

Thoughts of having a drink tonight enter my mind and quickly overwhelm me.  If Im going to have a couple drinks tomorrow, why not have a couple drinks tonight. I deserve it. Ive already bought it after all.

Game on! I grab a glass from the cupboard, and I go out to the garage and get the bottle out from the truck. Quickly, I pour about a quarter of a glass of vodka and return inside where I drink. I do this three times.

This is the way it CAN BE.


Wow! Its Super Bowl time again. Sunday February 2, 2014. As an avid sports man, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle for me. Id go to the end of the Earth to watch the Super Bowl. Its the last football game of the season. The best of the best!

The excitement for the game is always strong in our house the food, the commercials, fun with the family, and of course, the game itself. This year is especially exciting for me since my three year old son is starting to understand football. Ive been getting him ready to root for the Broncos with dad. Its not that I am a huge fan of the Broncos, but I dislike the Seahawks.

Its the night before the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. My wife and I are getting our list together for the food that we will prepare. My homemade hamburger nachos are my signature tail gate or get together dish. This of course is on top of my list. Piled high on tortilla chips are a mixture of Velveeta cheese, hamburger and salsa, mixed and heated together in a crock pot.  Add shredded lettuce and jalapeños to top it off. Yummy. I could eat those every day. My wife is not a huge fan of the jalapeños, so I have to add those afterwards just for me. My wife likes to make a veggie tray of celery, carrots, olives, peppers, broccoli and pickles. After that, we add to the list a few items we need for the house like milk, juice, eggs, bread and chicken nuggets for the kids. With the list done, Im off to the grocery store. The excitement is building for the game. I tell my wife to call if she thinks of anything else.

Driving to the store, listening to my favorite sports-talk show, all they are talking about is the game. My excitement starts to build even more. I start thinking about what Im going to do before the game to make the time go quicker. Take the kids to the park, maybe take them to a movie. It will be so much more fun than past years when I drank too much. I plan what time to make the nachos and sit down for the big game.

As I pull into the parking lot, I immediately notice all the cars. Everyone must have the same idea as me getting ready for the super bowl. I park my car and start to walk towards the entrance. As I walk, I start to notice that many people are not only carrying groceries, but also carrying beer and other types of alcohol. I remind myself that Im not drinking.  No problem. Ive been sober for weeks. Being a recovering alcoholic, I remember those days when Id be doing that as well. Today, Im too excited about my food and the big game. I tell myself I dont need alcohol. Im going to enjoy the game with my family and actually remember it.

I walk into the store and can feel the excitement. People everywhere getting food, talking about the game, asking their friends what they want to eat. Just looking happy.  I have a smile on my face.

I grab a cart and head right to the produce section. I check my list. First are the veggies. Celery check. Carrots check. Broccoli check. Jalapenos check. Wow. They have Bronco orange peppers! I grab one orange and one green pepper. On my way to the dairy section, I pass the meat section and grab two pounds of the 93% hamburger. Next I get milk and cheese and notice the ranch dip for the veggies that wasnt on my list. I think good work. I dont want to come back here tomorrow when it will be even busier. Ive been on a roll shopping for items for the Super Bowl. Next, I go down the aisle and find pickles and bread. I start to head towards the salsa and tortilla chips. The aisle is packed. The store can hardly keep enough chips on the shelves. As Im waiting behind some people, I see a group of guys with a cart full of alcohol and beer. I think, I dont control their choices, only my own, and I choose to not drink. I overhear them talking about the game. What time they are going to meet up, what time they are going to start to grill, and, what time they are going to start drinking. I grab my chips and move on. Walking through the store getting the final things on my list, I calmly walk by the alcohol advertisements and cases of beer displayed. Ive been good with my sobriety lately and realize that sobriety is a day-to-day decision. Its the Super Bowl after all, and I plan on enjoying it with my family.

As I grab the last couple things on my list, I pass the beer and alcohol section of the grocery store. It is a separate store within a store. You can enter from the inside or the outside if all you want is alcohol. This section is packed. I again calmly tell myself that drinking doesnt help me reach my goals and definitely leads to unwanted conflict. I want to feel excited about the game, and I can do that sober. I keep my same pace of walking and feel calm. I tell myself, Mission accomplished. I got the grub.

I get to a checkout line, unload my cart and smile at the high school cashier. I can taste my nachos already. I pay for my groceries and leave. I load my groceries into my truck and then get behind the steering wheel. I turn the key, blow into my interlock device, and the car starts. I pull out and go home.

Mark O. is a 34 year-old man struggling with alcohol addiction. He is in recovery and is using a cognitive-behavior therapy approach to abstain from all use of alcohol.

John W. Herdman, Ph.D., LADC is a licensed psychologist and licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Lincoln, NE who uses evidence-based treatment for addictions. He is the author of three books: Global Criteria: The 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor, Sixth Edition; A Rational Workbook for Recovery From Addiction, Second Edition; and, A Rational Workbook for Anger Help for Those with a Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder. He can be contacted by email at johnh@parallelslincoln.com.

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1 comments on article "Super Bowl 2014"

Samira Noorali

1/14/2015 1:54 PM

I love that CBT is both deep and accessible... changing the way we thinking about ourselves and also affecting our day-to-day behavior.

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