So, can a recovering gambling addict ever take a vacation to Atlantic City, the casino capital of the East Coast? Everywhere you go in Atlantic City you will run into various lures to gamble. There are even slot machines in gas stations and grocery stores. Hotels shamelessly lead guests through a maze of slots and tables as they try to make their way to the front desk or restaurant. You can’t get to the pool without being accosted by flashing lights and the ping-ping sounds of the casino.
This is not to say that all recovering gambling addicts, if and when ready, can’t take a trip to Atlantic City and still come home relapse-free. However, it is imperative that you devise a plan of action prior to leaving, and you must stick to this plan no matter what happens.
Here are a few tips.
Think carefully about who you are traveling with. If you are headed out to Atlantic City with a group of friends who plan on spending a lot of time at the casinos, think again! Make sure your travel companions are aware of your history and will help you avoid any temptation. Share your plan ahead of time with your partner.
Try making a list of all the other things there are to see and do while in AC. Though it may be a gambler’s paradise, there are a lot of other things going on. Why not treat yourself to a day at the spa.
Do not carry your credit cards on your person. Keep these in the safe in your room. Carry only a limited amount of cash, enough for lunch or whatever else you have going on that day.
Have the contact numbers of other addicts you know (it is best that you have a sponsor), your therapist, or Gamblers Anonymous with you at all times. This way, if you feel tempted and are having difficulty controlling it, you may call one of these people. Having someone to talk to that has knowledge of how you feel can help.
Take great pride in your little accomplishments throughout the vacation. If you were able to walk through the casino and not heed the call of the tables, or you split from your travel companions for the afternoon to walk the Strip while they hit the slots, you should acknowledge that. You must feel proud of yourself over the little things you didn’t do; that is what recovery is all about.
Atlantic City could be a nice place to visit – bright lights, lots of action, great shopping, world-class entertainment, and yes, gambling. As we said, even recovering gambling addicts can make a trip out there if they feel they are prepared. Be sure to make a plan and stick to it. Coming back home, knowing you faced a big temptation and didn’t relapse will be a major accomplishment.
*Name changed to protect privacy