Are Those Pharmaceutical Medication Commercial Side Effects a Lot Like Problem Gambling?

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You can always count on SNL to parody something that we’ve all been thinking about. In the old skit above, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader lay into pharmaceutical medication commercials that list a long line of potential side effects. Those “side effects may include” have become TV tropes that lampoon the original intent. They leave viewers shaking their heads wondering why anyone would start taking the product if they knew the stated risks.

Of course, there is a lot of nuance behind it all, namely preexisting vulnerabilities to developing side effects. That being said, we can’t help but notice that many medicine commercial side effects mirror that of gambling disorder (GD). If Americans knew the risks, beyond a Responsible Gaming disclaimer hidden at the end of gambling ads, perhaps vulnerable persons would think twice before “consuming” the gambling industry’s product as well?

Let’s take a somewhat satirical look at the side effects garrulously spoken during medication commercials that eerily resemble those associated with problem gambling.

Commonly Quoted Medicine Commercial Side Effects that Vulnerable People May Also Experience with Compulsive Gambling

“Side Effects May Include Insomnia”

This is one of the most commonly stated risks that keep certain consumers up at night, literally. Compulsive gambling can disturb quality of sleep in the following ways:

  • Produces adrenaline and the stress-hormone cortisol
  • Blue-light-emitting technology used in online casino gaming and sports betting
  • Land-based casinos have been designed to disrupt circadian rythm
  • Consequences of gambling (debt, etc.) lead to sleep disrupting feelings
  • Concurrent psychological factors

View more on why vulnerable persons can’t sleep after gambling.

“Side Effects May Include Hostility”

Anger, irritability, and moods swings are a known symptom of problem gambling. It leads to a dopamine crash and serotonergic hypofunction and overall neurotransmitter hyperactivity that causes vulnerable persons to lash out. Learn more about gambling anger and irritability.

“Side Effects May Include Weight Gain”

Some people think that they have enough control over their mental and emotional facilities that they can manage the side effects of the medications they are thinking of buying. However, when you throw uncontrollable weight gain into the mix, a number of them opt out. As it turns out, weight gain is another potential symptom of problem gambling. It may occur as a result of a variety of things. The immobility that comes with hours of online casino gaming and sports betting is a culprit, as is the culture of food and alcohol consumption in land-based casino environments. Further, there are cooccurring behavioral health issues that may contribute. Read more on the gambling and obesity weight-gain connection.

“Side Effects May Include Depression”

This may very well be the most commonly quoted medicine commercial side effect to also align with what vulnerable gamblers often experience. The same dopamine crash and neurotransmitter imbalances addressed above for hostility may also manifest as depression, especially if there are other cooccurring mental health issues at play. Please read more on depressed gambler causations.

“Side Effects May Include Suicidal Thoughts”

This is the one that gets the most uncomfortable response from viewers as pharmaceutical ads interrupt their Friends rerun marathon. We’re glad that the public takes it as seriously as it deserves to be taken, and hope that vulnerable parties do the same when it comes to compulsive gambling behavior. Current gambling suicide statistics are startling. For instance, 28% of problem gamblers report suicidal ideation, while 20% indicate that they had made a suicidal attempt, and 26% have participated in non-suicidal self injury.

We conclude this tongue-in-cheek look at the dangers of problem gambling with another SNL skit that speaks directly to the sports betting crisis in America.

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Another article you may be interested in:

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Medicine Commercial Side Effects Sound Like Problem Gambling