Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

Why Do Addicts End Up in Hotels?

We’re all familiar with the trope. After days or weeks on a bender, an addict will find themselves holed up in a hotel with bottles, spoons, and whatever else strewn around carelessly. They barely remember what has transpired in that room. The most lucid moments allocate toward trying to score the next fix. So why do addicts end up in hotels that, by definition, burn up their own drug money with unnecessary boarding fees? Unfortunately, hotels and motels offer the ideal environment for enabling addictive behavior indefinitely.


Hotels deal in convenience. It’s no surprise that owners strategically strew vending machines in high-traffic hallways and lobby areas. If you could stock your own personal vending machine, what would be in it? And where would you put it? For addicts on a bender, the answer seems obvious.

Unlimited drugs! Handles of hard liquor galore! And ideally, these personalized vending machines would be in the adjacent room. Far away enough to preserve privacy, but convenient enough to deal its wares at a moment’s notice. And that’s exactly what happens when an astute dealer clues into a client’s hotel stay.

All too often, dealers will book a room in their client’s hotel to “set up shop.” That way, their supply becomes an on-demand vending machine that fuels the user’s dependency. Regardless of the ethics and legality of the situation, hotels thrive on no vacancy. And to make matters worse, they cater to (read: enable) both parties with no-questions-asked room service.


Okay, so this one is pretty obvious. Room service perks are one answer to the question, “Why do addicts end up in hotels?” Having someone else to clean up your messes on the regular is one of the reasons hotels stay in business. The convenience factor acts as a huge draw across the board. But this service takes on an insidious role when it enables drug users to continue using without any semblance of consequence.

Hot meals on demand. Fresh towels and maid service daily. These room service perks keep addicts focused on their bender.


Living in a hotel offers a way to “get off the grid” in some respects. It offers escape from responsibilities at home, although it usually makes the situation worse in the long term. But in the meantime, addicts ostensibly pay hotels to suspend their personal accountability at home.

When staying at a hotel, parents, significant others, and dependents seem farther away. No one is around to ask what you’re up to. No one will get home early to dampen your high. And you no longer have to tiptoe around to hide using behaviors. But these factors all convalesce into a potentially fatal risk.


The enabling environment hotels provide also pose a life-threatening risk of overdose. We’ve all grown used to news reports of celebrities dying of drug ODs in hotel rooms–what we don’t hear about is the countless times this happens to people who aren’t famous.

So what triggers this phenomenon of overdosing in hotel rooms? Why do addicts end up in hotels where they are at such high risk? It’s a combination of overzealous escapism and a dangerous lack of oversight. Overdose can be reversed if another person catches the slump in time. But when a person holes themselves up in a hotel, the likelihood of being saved before it’s too late is next to zero. But in the midst of addiction, it’s a risk many people become willing to take.


In the end, hotels offer the ideal environment for people suffering with substance abuse. With dealers on demand, no accountability, and pretty much free reign to make mistakes, hotels are (and will continue to be) breeding grounds for self-destructive behavior.

But there is hope. Eventually, most addicts and alcoholics reach a point where their disease becomes unmanageable. After chasing that first high for years (even decades), the novelty wears off. And the consequences seem to stack higher and higher. Somewhere down the line, it’s just not worth it anymore.


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