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The Tunnels of Las Vegas

by Will Long

November 16, 2021
tunnels of las vegas

Las Vegas is a city of neon and money and vice, but one of the little-known facts of life behind, or under, the fabled Strip is that there are hundreds of homeless suffering from substance abuse living under the city in drainage tunnels. Just under your feet at any moment on a casino floor could be a camp filled with those who don’t have a home or adequate living conditions.

The origin of the underground

The tunnels exist as a kind of drainage system for catastrophic flash flooding in the desert city of Las Vegas. Originally conceived as a 1985 public works project in response to a large flood that struck the city, the tunnels have since served as a refuge for criminals on the lam and homeless individuals seeking relief from the dry, hot, relentless sun.

Excavating an underground society

Journalists like Matthew O’Brien and former tunnel-dweller Paul Vautrinot have been socially excavating the underground societies since the early-to-mid-2000s, uncovering a previously-unseen underworld built up around substance abuse and dependency.

O’Brien has written two books (Beneath the Neon & Dark Days, Bright Nights) that bring the extensive tunnel societies and underground world of Las Vegas into the light. Deeply fascinating and endlessly inspiring, these tales will fundamentally change the way you think of both the homeless and those who suffer from substance use disorders.

Fortunately, there are organizations that explicitly exist for these people to bring them back into the light once again. Much attention has been given in recent years to the success stories of those who found recovery after leaving the tunnels for good. The successes go to show that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, and no one is beyond recovery from substance abuse—we simply need to shine a light in the direction of those who need it most.

Landmark Recovery of Las Vegas

If you are or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, give Landmark Recovery a call at 888-448-0302 to learn more about how our treatment services can help you unlock your potential. Landmark is excited to be a part of the Las Vegas recovery community, providing yet more light to shine on these peoples’ lives.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.