Is addiction something to celebrate?

Published 12:01am Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hundreds of local residents, including prominent leaders, turned a blind eye Tuesday as they celebrated Natchez’s newest corporate partner.

It wasn’t a scene new to our community or our state, and, when you open your eyes, it wasn’t unlike celebrations of decades past all across our nation, even our globe.

Our society has always glorified harmful addictions for a time, until we learned better — the hard way.

Now absurd advertising promoting cancer-causing cigarettes marked much of the 20th century. Movie stars smoked gracefully. TV personalities made it cool. Phillip Morris was king, and the effects of black lungs were a relative unknown for the public.

TV westerns made alcoholism manly.

Rock stars of the 1960s-1990s made illicit drugs desirable.

But today, no group of well-respected business leaders, elected officials and community leaders would gather for a ceremony celebrating cigarettes, alcohol or cocaine.

Why is gambling different?

The Mayo Clinic — a widely respected medical research group — recognizes gambling as a medical addiction. Their website offers symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, tests, treatments, coping and support information.

Gambling has been around as long as alcohol and cigarettes, for sure. And it comes in hundreds of forms.

Its dangers have already been recognized by society as a problem, and that’s why you can’t enter a casino, visit a casino website or drive down the Las Vegas strip without seeing ads and messages listing phone numbers for those who may need help with their addiction.

Yet, we still celebrate the opening of new havens of gambling, businesses that exist only in hopes of drawing in customers and convincing them to return.

Not everyone who smokes dies of lung cancer, and not everyone who gambles gets addicted and ruins his or her life. But is it OK to promote cigarettes to a group of soon-to-be-legal high school students?

Is it OK to celebrate something we know will hurt people in our community?

The future of Natchez as a two-casino town is entirely murky. The net job growth, $1 million contribution to the city and pending tax dollars are all great — today.

But no one knows what the coming year, five years or decade will hold.

Will the first casino close or cut back its staff, erasing the job gains and increased tax revenues?

Will the $1 million going into the city coffers each year be spent in a way that benefits the residents?

More importantly, will Natchez residents who are already struggling with personal finances and family time simply lose more money and more time? What will the impact of that loss be on the community as a whole?

It may never be possible to truly track the impact of casino No. 1 or casino No. 2 on our community, and if you did, it’s unlikely everyone would agree.

But Tuesday’s celebration was a sad one in my book. If it takes a business that thrives on an addictive, money-sucking behavior to create economic celebration in our city, it leaves me wondering about us and about our future.

 

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Anonymous

    Wow Carrie Nation, don’t let that hatchet get away from you. You compare 3 addictions you ingest, with gambling. Sorry, gambling is not a medical addiction. It can become an addiction like a lot of things, but not inherently as you state. I see a more detrimental problem with addiction to smart phones, across all walks of life and all ages, ESPECIALLY the young, than I do with gambling.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I’m by no means a fan of gambling but to conflate a physical addiction with what is not much more than a character flaw is a bit much.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Gambling is a amusement and everyone is their own moral agent that enjoy just as betting on horses , dogs , fights, football games and on an on. No one holds a gun on you to go into a casino or to place a bet so case closed!!

  • Anonymous

    TV westerns made alcoholism manly? Where in the world do you get this stuff? And rock stars in the 60s through the 90s made illicit drugs desirable? And you don’t even print the phone number where you can get help for gambling. Yeah, right.

  • Anonymous

    And newspapers promote propaganda, Your Point!!

    If I were the Casinos I wouldn’t advertise with them and see Who crys to Who

  • Anonymous

    Shopping addiction ruins personal finances. Sex addiction ruins relationships. Compulsive eating ruins health. Compulsive gambling ruins lives. So I guess none of us who occasionally enjoy shopping, dating, dining or playing a slot machine should be encouraged to do so because a small minority can’t control themselves?

  • Anonymous

    IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO THE DOLLAR. GAMBLING OR ANYTHING ELSE CAN DO TO MUCH TO HURT THIS CITY. IT’S ALREADY A RETIREMENT HOME. WHEN THE YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVE THEY DON’T RETURN. COMPAIRING NATCHEZ NOW TO TWENTY YEARS AGO, IT’S A GHOST TOWN. THE BOAT IS THE ONLY PLACE TO GO FOR ENTERTAINMENT. YOU GOT TO LEAVE OUT OF TOWN FOR ANY OTHER ENTERTAINMENT. ALTHO I DON’T DO THE BOAT, BECAUSE THE BOAT IS LOOKING FOR THE SAME THING I’M LOOKING FOR. I SEEN WHAT PEOPLE WENT THREW WHEN THAT BOAT CLOSED IT’S DOORS BECAUSE OF HIGH WATER. I’LL BE GLAD WHEN MISSISSIPPI LEGALIZE MARIJUANA, I KNOW IT WILL BE THE LAST STATE. BUT WHEN IT DO, I’M GOING TO SIT ON THE FRONT PORCH GET HIGH AND LISTEN TO MUSIC. THAT MARIJUANA WILL BE HELPING MY PAINS AT THE SAME TIME I’M ON CLOUD-NINE.