Super Bowl XLVII was a sober one for some. Literally.
For about 300 Chicagoans who watched the game Sunday night at a gymnasium in the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center on Chicago's Near West Side, there wasn't a beer in sight, other than on the commercials. With the game projected onto a 10-foot screen, a booming sound system and even louder crowd filled the gym. Home Run Inn donated more than 100 pizzas.
Attending a sober Super Bowl party, like the one the Salvation Army threw for recovering addicts and the public, is an important step for people with past addictions, said Eric Goplerud, senior vice president of Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Criminal Justice Studies at NORC at the University of Chicago.
Many Super Bowl watchers associate the game with alcohol, Goplerud said, so people recovering from addictions easily end up in tempting situations. About 10 percent of American adults reported having a problem with drugs or alcohol at one time, according to a 2012 national survey.
David Bahena and his girlfriend Diana Valencia, both 38, who attended the Salvation Army's Super Bowl party, reconnected in Chicago after Bahena moved back to the city from Texas. They have been dating on and off for a few years and have a son together.
But at the end of 2012, Bahena said he relapsed into a crack cocaine and alcohol addiction he has struggled with for decades. He ended up homeless, Bahena said.
On Jan. 1, he walked into the Harbor Light Center determined to change, Bahena said. He's expecting his second child with Valencia.
"I know the potential he has when he can overcome his addiction," Valencia said. That's why she sticks with him, she said. "He was my first love."
Those in recovery, as well as their friends and family, should be aware of the potency of temptation, or triggers, Goplerud said. "What are situations, feelings, smells, events that are associated with drinking that increase their craving ... to drink?" he said.
Bahena said that at most Super Bowl parties, simply the smell of alcohol would make him more tempted to drink.
"But it's not just one beer," Valencia said. "There's no stopping it. It becomes a two-week relapse."
Bahena said when he goes through detox, so does his family.
"They go through the hardship (too)," Bahena said. "I have to step back and say that even though to everybody else it's nothing, it's just a drink, to me it's something lethal that could send my whole family down the drain."
Quinessa Solomon, 30, said she hadn't seen her father in months when she and her daughter met him for the party.
"It's really good to see him like this," Solomon said, adding that she's grateful that her father, who loves football, had a safe place to watch the game.
Her father, who asked to remain anonymous, said he wants to make a full recovery.
"My goal is to be sober for the rest of my life," he said. "And to make amends for all the hurt I've caused."
Gregory Nelson, 50, who has been sober three years, said he used to drink in excess at Super Bowl parties, but he said he has an even better time sober.
Creating new memories of Super Bowls without alcohol helps lessen the hold of triggers for recovering addicts, Goplerud said.
"(A sober party) provides an opportunity to get together with other people who are in recovery in a social, exciting event where alcohol is not necessary to fuel or support camaraderie and having a good time," Goplerud said. "It reinforces that sobriety can be fun."
The company of people with the same struggles helps, too, several party attendees said.
Tim Hall, 59, who went through the Salvation Army's program six years ago, said he's seen strangers become friends every year.
"By halftime, by the end of the third quarter," Hall said, "we're all going to be good friends."