When Leaving Las Vegas, isn’t an Option

Some think that problem gamblers living in a city, town, or state with heavy concentrations of betting establishments is no different than an alcoholic living near venues that sell alcohol. Sorry, but if you’ve been to Las Vegas (etc.) you’ll deduce that it’s not akin to an alcoholic residing near a bar, it’s like an alcoholic living in a bar. Do these naysayers dare to wager on how long one will be able to abstain?

Studies tie the risk of problem gambling and relapse with proximity to casinos and other physical gambling opportunities. One recent body of research found that individuals who live within 10 miles of a casino are 90% more likely to experience problem gambling. While there is a lot of logic to this, researchers do admit that a co-occurrence with variables such as low income status and/or substance abuse may be at play:

“In another analysis of this survey that previously was reported, we found that problem drinkers had 23 times the odds of having a gambling problem than individuals who did not have a drinking problem.”

University of Buffalo

Co-occurrence with other factors are important to recognize, and organizations such as Kindbridge Research Institute are leading the charge in these investigations. That being said, enhanced accessibility, availability, and acceptability of gambling in casino-densified communities puts vulnerable individuals at tremendous risk. Unfortunately, impacted households generally don’t have the option to move to communities without a physical casino, sportsbook, or racetrack in sight. For them, the lure of a slot machine pull is never at arm’s-length. So what are you to do if “Leaving Las Vegas” isn’t an option? Please read below.

3 Things Problem Gamblers Must Do When Living Within Near Proximity of Gambling Establishments

I. Trigger Avoidance

Problem gamblers who live in gambling communities are surrounded by triggers. Physical proximity to establishments and co-occurring vices (alcohol and drugs) are obvious triggers, as is the defense against them. Avoid consumption of substances that impair decision making and don’t visit your city or town’s epicenter of betting establishments. Las Vegas residents must steer clear of “The Strip”, Atlantic City residents should step away from the Boardwalk, and so forth. This is a given. However, there are a number of other triggers that you may not be prepared for that can pull you into the dangerous embrace of nearby betting establishments.

For instance, ad sales divisions of local TV stations are well aware of their most lucrative market. This is why you view a disproportionately greater number of ads for both brick-and-mortar and online gambling operators when watching TV. Meanwhile, your online devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) also pick up on your location and feed gambling related messaging into web-browsing and content consumption experiences. Furthermore, a night out with friends and family will invariably put gambling in your path. Comedy and magic shows along with music and all other types of performances take place within or are adjacent to betting establishments in gambling communities.

You must be aware of these triggers at all times and take steps to defend against them. View our guide for how to avoid all of the gambling triggers near you.

II. Adopt Healthier Leisure and Recreation Activities

Boredom is a gateway to gambling. You may be able to occupy yourself against the temptation to gamble when at work (maybe) but during downtime the call of the casino can be too much to bear. Coworkers, friends, and even family members may be accustomed to frequenting gambling establishments on the weekend as a part of their leisure time, but this is clearly not an option for you. Thankfully, it just so happens that America’s gambling-heavy communities are also in close proximity to amazing outdoor recreational opportunities. For example, Las Vegas residents are a casino chip’s throw from teeing off at world class golf courses, kayaking the Colorado River, hiking Death Valley, meditating at Joshua Tree, and much more. Wherever you live, there is a bounty of outdoor recreation to dive into.

Regular outdoor recreation not only provides a distraction from gambling, it can act as a healthy stand-in. Exercise works on similar parts of your brain as habitual gambling and co-occurring substance abuse. They both activate your reward pathway, which triggers the release of feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

Beginning today, adopt healthier leisure and recreation activities that will take you away (physically and mentally) from problem gambling.

III. Invest in Regular Online Therapy for Problem Gambling and Co-Occurring Conditions

There’s no sugar coating it; a problem gambler who lives near casinos is served a dangerous cocktail of accessibility, availability, and acceptability every single day of his/her life. If you’re one of them, you are at risk of relapse right at this very moment. It is essential for you to make regular therapy a part of your life. Consider it in the same manner as you do for physiotherapy and someone who lives with chronic pain, if that helps you remove the unwarranted stigma of behavioral health counseling.

There are online therapists specializing in gambling disorder treatment who are ready to help support you right away. These experts also specialize in co-occurring conditions so that you can tackle problem gambling behavior from all angles. Moreover, there are gambling treatment programs available to individuals and families in private or group settings to accommodate preferences and/or financial considerations.

Let’s make living near gambling establishments more manageable, and exceed your expectations for a happier and healthier lifestyle. It all starts with an email or call.

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