Pharmaceuticals and Gambling Addictions

One of the more important lessons writers learn as they define and refine the art of writingwriters-block is that the flaws in the characters they create are what make those characters more interesting to the reader. And those particular character flaws contribute significantly to the conflict that arises when characters act as they do in perilous situations.

I often use pharmaceuticals as lethal weapons in my writing. What if those Prescription-Drugspharmaceutical substances, instead, created a specific character flaw that caused the character to act in a lethal manner? Would the drug be considered a weapon of murder or simply an instrument that creates the murderer?

The other day I came across an interesting medical report called “Medication Lotto: Can a Drug Cause a Gambling Addiction?” That article made me think about behavior-altering drugs and, more specifically, the behavior-altering SIDE EFFECTS of drugs.

The article reported that an elderly man was brought in for evaluation after familyth members were concerned when the man suddenly developed a new passion in his life. He was spending much of his time in a nearby gambling casino and had lost much of his retirement savings as a result of his gambling addiction.

Upon evaluation of the man’s medical history, it was discovered that he suffered from depression and Parkinson’s disease. An astute doctor focused on the dopamine agonist medications that were being used to treat these conditions.

Dopamine agonists stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain. The end result includes mood shifts and decreases in the abnormal reflex action associated with diseases like Parkinsonism and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

In controlled studies, it was found that almost 20% of patients with Parkinson’s disease who were treated with a dopamine agonist drug developed compulsive behavior side effects, such as gambling addiction and hypersexuality.

Similar compulsive disorder side effects were seen in studies of drugs used to treat MH900337301depression and bipolar disorder. Because Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disease, the drugs used to treat this condition are similar to Parkinson’s drugs (dopamine agonists). A Mayo Clinic study discovered that a relatively large number of patients with RLS developed compulsive gambling habits and other compulsive disorders, such as shopping addictions or compulsive eating, when taking drugs for RLS.

These reports got my creative juices flowing and almost put my brain on overload as I thought about what interesting plot twists I could create using a similar drug to spice up a storyline with a character who develops a compulsive gambling, shopping or binge-eating habit as a result of being treated with a dopamine agonist drug for depression, Parkinson’s disease or RLS.

There also have been some dramatic and expensive lawsuits filed against drugmock-trial-2-4-24 manufacturers from patients who have lost their life savings because of the gambling addiction side effects of these drugs. One such lawsuit resulted in an $8.2 million judgment against the drug developer for failing to provide adequate warnings of the potential risks in taking a particular drug.

Although a number of patient lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers and not against the prescribing physicians for these financially devastating side effects, future lawsuits will likely include the prescribing physicians. And that idea could create another very interesting plot twist.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A New Drug Abuse Threat, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, About Writing, Blog Trends, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Character Development Techniques, Characteristics of Killing, Creating Unique and Interesting Character Flaws, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Drug Induced Compulsive Disorders, Drug Induced Gambling Addiction, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Fictional Character Development, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, Interesting Murder Weapons, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Pharmaceutical Side Effects and Compulsive Behavior, Pharmaceuticals and Gambling Addiction, Pharmaceuticals to Create Character Flaws, Plotting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Pharmaceuticals and Gambling Addictions

  1. Jim,
    Better living through chemistry. Or at least different. I recently saw a four-page ad for a medicine in a magazine. The top half of the first page was a picture of an obviously happy person. Below that were two short paragraphs on the benefits of the drugs in an easily readable font. The other three plus pages were the potential side effects in small type which I suspect very few people read. I think these warnings could all be replaced with a simple “This drug is potentially dangerous to your body and mind. Make sure your family and caregivers are paying attention to how you are doing.” But this might be an interesting way to eliminate the wealth of a competitor or enemy family. As a weapon this seems to be hard to aim. Can you predict the specific side effects a particular drug will have on an individual?
    Or maybe a lawyer and doctor conspire. In these kinds of suits, only the lawyers win.
    Thanks for another interesting post.
    Walt

    • You bring up some interesting plot twist ideas, Walt, and that’s one of the primary purposes of my blogs. Thanks!!
      Some side effects of drugs are fairly predictable, but data can be manipulated very well for fiction (and sometimes even in real drug trials to achieve a favorable outcome).
      Thanks for your comments – All the best!

  2. sciencethriller says:

    I never thought of this plot tactic. Very cool.

    • Thanks! Your comment made me smile, Amy. I’ve been working on a short story collection off and on, and write a short story whenever a particularly interesting plot comes to mind but that probably would not support a full novel. This may be one for a short story!🙂

  3. Your fertile mind has come up with yet another interesting and useful addition to the many plot-teasers you’ve shared with us, James. Wow! Great stuff! Many thanks.

  4. I appreciate the kind words. All the best to you!

  5. Quality content is the secret to be a focus for the visitors to go to
    see the site, that’s what this site is providing.

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