With football season in full swing, so are the many traditions that go along with it, including tailgating. Although many individuals may enjoy including with the tradition excessive drinking, there are others who want to engage in the traditional event without alcohol. For this reason, Dallas-based Southern Methodist University (SMU) has developed a sober tailgating program in conjunction with The Twelfth Step Ministry, a non-profit organization that provides a safe, inclusive community, educational support and training for those in recovery, as well as for professionals in North Texas.
For each home football game this season, SMU will be hosting a sober tailgating event and inviting students, parents, and community members to participate. The university is providing a tent to house the activities and various community institutions related to the recovery community will be present to support the cause by providing food, non-alcoholic beverages, raffle prizes and activities. For the game this weekend against Temple University, Caron Texas is a large supporter and will be contributing Texas BBQ food, non-alcoholic beverages and a Target gift card as the raffle prize (something useful to all college students). The organization is also bringing brochures about the Caron Texas facility to give to those who are interested.
Mike Puls, vice president and executive director of Caron Texas, says his team is thrilled to be part of the sober tailgate and refers to it as a “natural, informal way of supporting the lifestyle changes of people in recovery.”
Not only will this event provide students in recovery with a safe and sober place to go to enjoy the football festivities, but it will help to connect them with others in the sober community. “We want to remind people about why they loved football to begin with before alcohol entered the picture,” Puls says.
Additionally, he hopes an event such as this “plants a seed.” In other words, younger kids who are attending the game with their parents will have their eyes opened to an alternative approach to have fun.
The organizers also hope the event casts an effect on the community-at-large by showing that addiction is an issue within the community and that there are people and organizations taking positive steps to address it. It will also serve as a benefit to the community because by helping students maintain their recovery, stay in school, and eventually graduate, they will then be immersed back into the community to live healthy and productive lives.
Caron Texas, a 40-bed addiction treatment facility located north of Dallas, has also made an effort to engage in the college scene in other ways. The staff has been working with the University of Texas at various campuses to provide resources and training and to help brainstorm on how to integrate some of these ideas into student life. As of this school year, the University of Texas has agreed to have a Center for Students in Recovery at all nine of its campuses and received a grant to be able to see this through.