Substance abuse and gambling go hand in hand. Not only are problem gamblers more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, but someone under the influence is more likely to take risks and to partake in things like gambling.
You only need to look to Las Vegas, and to the state of Nevada in general, to understand just how closely these two are intertwined.
Meth Addiction in Nevada
The state of Nevada has some of the most relaxed gambling laws in the United States. It is home to the gambling meccas of Reno and Las Vegas and countless gamblers flock there every year. They are drawn to the state like retirees are drawn to Florida, and that’s created a few interesting statistics.
For instance, methamphetamine, which has become one of the drugs of choice for gamblers looking to stay up all night, is abused at a greater rate in Nevada than it is anywhere else. According to a report in 2018 they had the highest rate of meth-related fatalities in the United States, with many predicting that the sheer number of meth deaths in NV would make it more of a crisis than the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Speaking of which…
Opioid Addiction in Nevada
Nevada is said to have the second highest rate of opioid dependance in the United States, with per capita sales of oxycodone rising by a staggering 366% in the last decade. And this is not an issue that has only existed for the last ten years, because even as far back as 2003 and 2004 Nevada ranked as one of the worst states for drug abuse in the US, with many ranking it as the worst overall.
This drug abuse leads to many other societal issues and may be responsible for the high crime rate in cities like Las Vegas. It also likely plays a role in increasing the rate of gambling addiction throughout the state, which in turn has been directly linked with the growing number of homeless on the streets of Nevada’s biggest cities.
It’s a domino effect that can begin with a legal prescription for common opioids and end with something much more serious and life threatening.
There is another reason Las Vegas has such a big issue with addiction and abuse: money. Drugs are smuggled into areas that can afford them, and when you have a state built on the gambling dollar you have a guarantee of free-flowing cash, of tourists willing to spend big, locals happy to put it all on the line, and criminals seeking to earn their share.
It has been estimated that more meth is smuggled into the city of Las Vegas than many other major cities around the world, and the same is true for heroin and cocaine. These drugs are smuggled across state borders by everyone from major criminal gangs and cartels, to tourists bringing their own supply.
Black tar heroin is smuggled from Asia, methamphetamine from Mexico, marijuana from South America, and prescription medications from the United States and Canada. All of these drugs converge on the state of Nevada and are responsible for making it one of the most addicted states in the country.
What to Do
The good news is that there is more help available than ever, with inpatient and outpatient treatment options available to anyone who needs it. It has ever been easier to get lost in the chaos of substance abuse in the City of Sin, but getting sober in Vegas is easier than ever and help is there for anyone who needs it.