For people engaged in a battle with alcohol and sobriety, our area can be a constant temptation to stray from the road to recovery. Frozen daiquiris beckon from sidewalk stands, bars and liquor stores are a prevalent presence on nearly every block, and countless community events are enjoyed by countless attendees with drinks happily in hand.
For David Murphree, a co-founder of Bridging the Gap (BTG), a transitional recovery center in Panama City Beach, this fact was not lost during the recent Super Bowl. Murphree, who along with co-founder Dan Luoma, had struggled with watching previous Super Bowl’s at bars or friend’s house parties. The atmosphere, while normal to most, always seemed a little tense and uncomfortable.
“It just never feels quite right,” said Murphree in a BTG blog post recently regarding the ever- present lure of alcohol while watching previous Super Bowls. “And unless you have a pretty strong recovery program I certainly don’t suggest it.”
This year, Murphree and Luoma decided to cut out any social temptation from their Super Bowl festivities and organized a sober Super Bowl party of their own. The idea was to offer recovering addicts a safe and sober environment where they could relax and enjoy the game, complete with mounds of food and other traditional trappings, without the pressure of being surrounded by others who didn’t quite understand the everyday struggle of staying sober.
The event was a huge success and helped Murphree and Luoma realize there was a strong demand for sober events in Panama City Beach. Especially as Spring Break approaches and the lure for alcoholic pressure is at it’s greatest.
“I had so many people come up to me, truly appreciative of a place to watch the game with their families or friends and not have to worry about any of the drama that comes with alcohol,” Murphree said after the event. “Sometimes it is liberating to be shielded from temptation.”
Other attendees chimed in with rave reviews as well.
“It was such a pleasure to see so many people having such a good time, not a chemically induced good time, but a genuinely good time,” said one attendee.
“Priceless, so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people,” said another.
BGT plans to hold the Sober Super Bowl party again next year and is also considering organizing sober activities throughout the rest of the year to provide Panama City Beach families the opportunity to partake in outings free from the drugs and alcohol that is frequently associated with those events.
“We think it’s important in early sobriety to learn that life is not only just as fun as it ever was, but even more so,” Luoma told the News Herald.
A Super Bowl ranks right up there with New Years Eve as one of the biggest drinking nights of the year…and many of us stay home to avoid getting into trouble,” Murphree added in his blog post. “In the future, I hope there are many options for ‘Sober Super Bowl Parties’. I know BTG will be one of them.”
Murphree and Luoma hope that is just one of many sober events to come throughout the year. For more information of Bridging the Gap, you can visit their website at www.btgrecovery.com or ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼call them at 850-290-5975.