This is a guest post by Author Jay Rankin. When it comes to Las Vegas there is little that Jay does not know – Simon

Many years before I was the doorman at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, I had received my Master’s degree in Psychology. One of the courses I took was on Alcoholism and Addictions. For me, this subject was by far the most riveting, and eye-opening course being offered. There was something about people who had addictions that fascinated me plus, I had lost a best friend to alcoholism. He died in a Jacuzzi, reading a book while drinking a pint of Scotch. I had other friends who although did not die, got caught up in addictions.

I believe it is now called, Substance Use Disorder which describes the compulsive disorder of substance abuse. Call it what you will.

I learned what caused the human brain to re-wire itself and become so preoccupied and full of anticipation with drugs, gambling, sex, or the hundreds of other addictions. I learned what happens to the cells of the body when an addict develops an allergic reaction to something he can’t stop taking. The class studied the genetic predisposition some people have to addictions. And finally, we learned what caused loved ones to become the very people who enable the addict, knowing that the person they love so deeply is destroying his life and slowly killing himself.

In the addiction course we studied people’s pain threshold and defense mechanisms, and there were many. These descriptive terms were pretty strong chess pieces protecting and enabling someone to carry on the destructive suicide, and at the same time submerging who a person used to be. Words like denial, projection, distortion, rationalization, repression, and delusions were just some of the stunning ways in which the human brain worked even as the body slowly imploded. These defense mechanisms encircle the addict’s core self and repress all survival instincts. Self-love becomes submerged, replaced by self loathing. Self esteem is submerged, replaced by a death wish.

Every addict has so many wonderful and unique qualities that become lost or destroyed in a life choice, where the bottom line is always death.

This awareness is what I brought with me when I became a doorman in Las Vegas.

I was in the service business. I wore a circus outfit and was labeled, ‘hotel ambassador’ by management. It was my job to help guests whether it was for transportation, answering questions, or arranging a limo for a group of guys to a brothel. I worked from 7:00 pm to 3:00 am. I stood at the mouth of the largest hotel in the world, in the middle of a town that had no boundaries and where alcohol was served 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I had the unique and fascinating chance to quietly observe how people react in a place of no restrictions, no last calls, and no clocks. I watched and listened to people who were having a great time and to those who were so drunk and polluted; their bodies couldn’t handle whatever was flowing through their veins. This is a place called paradise where people came to blow steam and have a good time. This town is also a perfect storm for people to come and self destruct. I stood at the epicenter.

It was such a unique position I was in. There was no therapy, no intervention at all, just simple engagement with hundreds of people a day who came to have a good time. But I knew that there would be some people who would experience the ‘grand illusion of binging, getting sick, forgetting most of what happened, and then tell themselves a few days later, they had a great time in Vegas.

When people ask me what the secret is having a great time in Vegas? I always answer moderation.

Jay Rankin

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