During the ACL music festival, for many, it's a time to listen to their favorite bands live and have a drink or two. But for some festival goers that may be extremely difficult because they may be struggling with an addiction problem or are in recovery.
That was the situation for recovering alcoholic Patrick Whelan about 20-years ago, “Do I get to go see live music? What is going to be fun for me? Where do I get to go and have a place to blow off any steam? What's it going to look like? That unknown, that not knowing what it's going to look like when I don’t drink, when I don’t get high, what does life look like? Nothing scared me more than that thought,” He said.
Knowing his passion for live music and how difficult it may be for those trying to stay sober to enjoy concerts, Whelan said he had to do something, “I love live music, I love going to see concerts, and I love my sobriety, and the opportunity to combine those two things, dream come true for a lot of reasons.”
Follow the yellow balloons, and you'll find a group of people just like him.
It's a first time appearance for the "Sober Tent" at ACL, but there was no lack of friendly faces.
“We're just a group of clean and sober music fans enjoying the comradery of other clean and sober music fans,” Whelan said.
Whelan travels across the U.S. to dozens of music festivals a year to provide support for those people intent on staying clean. If you were at ACL, you may have seen some people with a yellow sticker that said “One show at a time" it helped those at the festival who are sober see each other, so they know they are not alone.
“I'm like those are my people. The sober people dance harder than any other group of people out there, and I'll know and they'll see me and they don't think they're alone as they are walking across the festival grounds. So the people have their tall boy beers and we've got our stickers and that's how we sort of catch each other out there," Whelan said.
Twice a day meetings are held at the “Sober Tent” for both weekends of ACL at 1 pm and 5 pm.