I chose to look up sleeping problems and the use of prescription sleeping pills. I think it is an extremely medicalized issue in our society. Culturally we all wish we had more hours in each day and live busy and high stress lives. These are common causes for interrupted sleeping or inability to fall asleep. There is big money in pharmaceuticals to help people improve the amount of sleep they receive each night. It has become a “norm” to pop a sleeping pill to go to sleep. Some of the reasons one might use these drugs is during high stress times and travel, but if used for chronic sleep loss or insomnia it is suggested that you consult your doctor. (Mayo Clinic) Ultimately the doctor will try to identify the reasons for your difficulty sleeping.
In the article I read it stated that between thirty and fifty percent of people are using sleep aids or pills at some point. Many of these drugs especially the benzodiazepines are highly addicted. I unfortunately know someone who started taking these to relieve anxiety and sleep and would then take Adderall to wake up and be productive. The cycle would repeat and would take a sleeping pill to counter act the effects of the Adderall. Now this may not be the story for everyone it is possible with the addictive qualities of these drugs. Another example of the problems these pills can create is Heath Ledger and his eventual death following the filming of Batman. The obsession with 5-hour energy is another topic that I could go on about for days but we’ll stick to sleep aids.
The link that follows is commercial for Ambien CR.
Advertising Strategies: The commercial is pretty simple and they use a relatable scenario. Everyone has felt drowsy and unproductive at work following a night of little sleep. They also use a very common looking woman. This allows the viewer to relate and start to see themselves taking the drug.
Cultural values and Social Roles: This commercial portrays the use of these drugs as social acceptable and a common practice. This scenario seems very normal. This shows a normal worker in need of sleep.
At the end of the commercial all the side effects and warnings are listed. The list of problems that is read off accounts for about seventy five percent of the commercial. There are severe side effects including
Minor side effects: Dizziness; drowsiness (including daytime drowsiness); “drugged” feeling; dry mouth; headache; muscle aches; nausea; nose or throat irritation; sluggishness; stomach upset; weakness
Major Side effects: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the hands, legs, mouth, face, lips, eyes, throat, or tongue; throat closing; unusual hoarseness); abnormal thinking; behavior changes; chest pain; confusion; decreased coordination; difficulty swallowing or breathing; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; memory problems (eg, memory loss); mental or mood changes (eg, aggression, agitation, anxiety); new or worsening depression; severe dizziness; shortness of breath; suicidal thoughts or actions; vision changes.
They do say to contact a doctor if you experience severe symptoms or side effects. Well thank god for that warning. The most shocking side effects is possible sleep walking, eating, or driving.
Just like our Pill Poppers video said if the benefits do not outweigh the side effects maybe we should reconsider taking these pills.