While under the influence of Ambien, Robert Stewart walked into a nursing home and killed eight people. Despite the fact that there was clear evidence that Stewart’s actions were premeditated, he was able to skirt the death penalty for these violent deaths. This ruling by the court was based primarily on the fact that Stewart, who claimed he had taken six tablets before the shooting, was not in control of his actions because of the effect of Ambien. Although this is notably one of the deadliest events linked to the use of this drug, most Ambien abuse stories has a sinister twist that hinges on bizarre and out of character behavior. Ambien (Zolpidem) is a powerful prescription medication that is primarily used to treat insomnia.
According to scientists, the effects of the drug typically occur within 15 minutes and works by inhibiting neuron activity that essentially slows down brain functions. Ambien is recognized as a hypnotic substance and was classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in 1992. Under this designation, Ambien has the potential for abuse and to cause dependence and addiction. Studies have also indicated that there are residual effects of using Ambien that put users at risk of falling and vehicular accidents.
As a result, in 2013, the FDA approved label changes that specify dosage differences of Ambien for men and women. As such, dosages have been reduced by as much as 50% for women and cuts extended for men who typically process the drug at a faster rate than females. Experts say, it is not unusual for Ambien to cause a zombie like state which can be even more exacerbated in women because biologically, they process the drug at a slower pace. Labeling on Ambien medications also warn consumers of serious side effects such as:
According to reports U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy was reportedly under the influence of Ambien when he was pulled over for driving erratically at three in the morning. “I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions,” Kennedy said. Studies show there are over 60 million prescriptions written annually with Ambien dominating in the sleep aid category. Abuse of this drug often occur after prolonged use that resulted in psychological dependence.
Ambien dependence also leads to increased consumption of this drug with some users taking as much as 20 or more pills a day. Beyond the medically prescribed use, recreational use of Ambien has been steadily increasing. When taken for purposes other than sleep aid, it is typically ingested by crushing and snorting or liquefying the drug through a cooking process so that it can be administered intravenously. Studies show, people with a predisposition to addiction or a history of drug dependence are also more at risk of experiencing dependence or addiction to this drug.
Consuming Ambien in conjunction with alcohol is another dangerous practice that is more prevalent with recreational users. Alcohol has been shown to intensify the effect of Ambien. Data from emergency room across the country indicate that in the last seven years, visits have doubled due to adverse reactions from Ambien. A dependence or addiction to Ambien is typically manifested by severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures if the drug user voluntarily or involuntarily abstain from taking their usual dose of this drug. There are many success stories of people that have been able to safely and completely recovery from years of dependence on Ambien. While undergoing treatment, many patients experience periods of sleeplessness. As a result, careful medical monitoring is essential during the Ambien detoxification and rehabilitation process.
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