As we are writing this blog entry, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is about to get underway in Australia and New Zealand. The powerhouse team from the United States—made up of famous veterans like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan as well as an exciting group of newcomers—are favored to win, but there are a number of talented, determined teams in the tournament.
We know you probably did not come to this blog looking for soccer news, but we would make the case that soccer—or football as it is known in nearly every place else on Earth—offers some lessons and insights that are relevant to the recovery journey.
So join us on the pitch as we kick around some ways in which the world’s most popular sport relates to recovery.
A Whole Lot of People are Pulling for You
Soccer fans are some of the most enthusiastic sports lovers in the world. They are fiercely loyal to their clubs and they pass their fandom down from one generation to the next. It is unconditional love. Win or lose, these fans will still root for their club with vigor.
While your recovery journey probably will not attract a stadium’s worth of chanting and cheering fans (it would be a little weird if it did, right?), there is an important lesson here. There are plenty of people in your life—they might include members of your family, your closest friends, members of your faith community, and more—who are truly pulling for you to maintain your sobriety. These are the people you can count on to stand by you no matter what, and they form a “fandom” that supports your ongoing efforts to stay sober.
You Can Rely on Your Teammates
Speaking of support systems, it is also important to remember that you have a supportive team. No one heads out on the soccer pitch alone to face the challenges of the game. Instead, whole teams work together. That is true in recovery, too.
Who is on your team? The folks in your 12-Step, SMART, or other recovery program. Your sponsor or recovery mentor. The medical professionals and therapists who manage your physical and mental healthcare. The team of folks who saw you through residential treatment—and will see you through again in the case of a relapse. All of these people play on your team.
There Is Only One Goal—But There Are Lots of Ways to Get There
A soccer team is working together to put the ball in the goal. It is the entire purpose of the game. There is only one goal—both literally and figuratively. That said, there are a lot of ways to accomplish that goal. You might score in the regular flow of play, executing a set play or taking advantage of a sudden opportunity. Your team might score off of a corner kick or penalty kick (or even a goal kick). In the end it doesn’t matter exactly how you achieve the goal of scoring a goal. It is just important that you do.
On the recovery journey, there is only one goal: stay sober. But the details of how you might accomplish that goal may vary. While there are some foundational things—recovery meetings, restful sleep, good nutrition, regular exercise, and more—the fact is that your path to ongoing sobriety is unique to you. The strategies you develop to help you maintain your sobriety only need to have one thing in common: They have to help you stay away from drugs and alcohol.
The Clock Never Stops, But You Can Still Find Ways to Rest
Soccer is pretty unusual among sports in that the clock never stops running. There are no timeouts that stop the clock. Indeed, the clock just keeps ticking away even if someone is hurt or if a team is joyously celebrating a goal. In acknowledgement of the fact that those sorts of things limit time devoted to game play, the referee can actually add time at the end of each half. The players on the field have to manage their own energy so that they have enough for those extra moments.
Of course, the clock never stops in our daily lives, either. We all face so many demands day in and day out. Our careers, our relationships, our social obligations—all of these things and more can sap our energy. This can be a problem for a person in recovery because exhaustion, stress, burnout, and the like can shake the foundations of your sobriety. It is essential that you find ways to conserve your energy so that you have the reserves necessary for when you face significant challenges. An absorbing hobby, a commitment to a regular sleep schedule, a decision to leave your work at work—all of these things and more can make sure you are well rested when the moment demands more of your energy.
Our Game is Getting Your Sober
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we are fully committed to helping the people we serve regain and maintain their sobriety. Our personalized approach to treatment is grounded in empathy, evidence, experience, and expertise. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we are here to help.