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Is Ambien Dangerous?

Ambien is a strange drug with even stranger side effects. It recently came back into the news after Roseanne Barr blamed the medication after she made a racist tweet, prompting Sanofi, the makers of Ambien, to respond: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” While side effects of Ambien certainly do not include racism, the drug does cause many dangerous, and sometimes bizarre, consequences.

Zolpidem tartrate, sold under the brand name Ambien, is prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia. Common side effects in nausea, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness. However, there are a host of serious behavioral side effects that have been reported. Ambien can cause abnormal thinking, sleepwalking, driving, and doing a variety of things that people do not remember later.

Allison McCabe, in a 2014 Huffington Post article entitled The Disturbing Side Effect of Ambien, the No. 1 Prescription Sleep Aid, reports on a woman who found that taking Ambien and staying awake can create feelings of euphoria. At one point, she woke up with two black eyes and a laceration on her nose. McCabe explains, “Her pillows were bloody, and there was a stranger, naked and wrapped in a rug, on her floor. Neither she nor the stranger had any recollection of the events of the previous night. That situation, though jarring, was not enough to get her to give up Ambien; the high was too good.” Situations like these are surprisingly common.Pursuing the high from Ambien can result in addiction that requires treatment.

One of the stranger side effects of Ambien is its effects on memory. Sara Mednick of the University of Riverside found that Ambien creates bursts of brain activity during sleep. These bursts of activity– known as “sleep spindles”– are involved in memory recall. The strange thing about Ambien is that it can strengthen memories, but only emotionally upsetting memories. Mednick explained, “I was surprised by the specificity of the results, that the emotional memory improvement was specifically for the negative and high-arousal memories, and the ramifications of these results for people with anxiety disorders and PTSD.” Sleep aids like Ambien could strengthen these negative memories and exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and PTSD.

Resilient House, a treatment facility located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a breathtaking setting where where clients can safely explore issues and trauma that may have contributed to the onset of the addiction and work toward a full life of recovery and long-term sobriety. Resilient House offers a full continuum of care, including detoxification, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and alumni support. For more information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431