by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
If you’re taking a prescription sleep aid called Ambien, you may have noticed unusual dreams, strange behavior, and memory failure. Even so, you probably never thought taking a sleeping pill as prescribed could send you to jail. Neither did Robert Stewart, Julie Ann Bronson, or Lindsey Schweigert.
Prescription Ambien has been associated with so many illegal events, lawyers have been using the “Ambien defense” to defend the actions of their clients while on this memory-erasing prescription drug.
Murder, Manslaughter, and Sleep-Driving Associated with Ambien
On March 29th, 2009, 45-year-old Robert Stewart stormed into the Pinelake Health and Rehab Nursing Home in Carthage, North Carolina. He opened fire and killed eight people and wounding two. His alleged target was his estranged wife, who hid in the bathroom and left the scene unharmed. Stewart’s lawyer was able to successfully argue that since Mr. Stewart was under the influence of Ambien, he was not in control of his actions.
In April of 2009, a 45-year-old flight attendant named Julie Ann Bronson took a couple of Ambien to help her sleep. She had admitted to drinking wine earlier in the day. After going to bed early, she awakened the following morning still in her bedclothes, barefoot, and scared out of her mind. To her horror, she was informed she’d run down a family of 3, inflicting permanent brain damage on an 18-month-old child.
In March of 2011, Lindsey Schweigert took just one Ambien before going to bed at 6pm. A few hours later, she woke up in the custody of police without having any recollection as to how she got there. She was driving to a restaurant but crashed into another vehicle soon after she left the house. After failing a sobriety test, she was charged with a DWI.
Famous Ambien Users Speak Out Against the Sleep Aid
- Steve Martin – Though the comedian and actor jokes about the side effects he experienced on Ambien, he stopped taking it immediately after realizing he’d played Internet poker with no recollection of doing so.
- John Stamos – In 2007, actor, John Stamos, took an Ambien at 5am to counteract the effects of jet lag and ended up giving an incoherent and inappropriate interview on an Australian morning show.
- Charlie Sheen – Charlie Sheen’s linked his very public meltdown a couple of years ago to the prescribed use of Ambien. (Although he is a classic example of what happens when you mix this drug with alcohol and other substances).
- Jack Nicholson – Jack Nicholson issued a warning about Ambien after he used it and almost drove over a cliff.
How Ambien Works to Get You to Sleep
Ambien is in the class of drugs known as ‘hypnotics’. It works by activating a neurotransmitter called GABA while inhibiting the neuron activity associated with insomnia. When excessive amounts of GABA flood your brain for long periods of time, it can alter your brain function and cause serious neurological and behavioral symptoms. Ambien was designed for only short-term use in the cases of severe insomnia. It was never meant to be used over extended periods.
The Many Side Effects Associated with Ambien
- Anterograde Amnesia
Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia. This can also lead to a partial or complete inability to remember past events, while long-term memories from before the event remain intact. This type of amnesia often causes the sleep-walking, sleep-driving, sleep-eating, sleep-shopping, and even sleep-sex associated with the use of Ambien.
- REM Behavior Disorder
Under normal circumstances, there are neurological “barriers” in place designed to keep your dreaming activity limited to your brain. However, people with REM Behavior Disorder are completely uninhibited during their sleep, which causes them to act out their dreams. If you are suddenly able to act out your dreams, you may punch, kick, scream, or even fly out of bed during sleep. This can be very harmful to your health and that of your sleep partner.
Nightmares are a common complaint among users of Ambien. Many report a type of “trance-like” state somewhere between dreaming and waking where monsters, beings, and other invaders seem to chase them out into the real world. Even after the nightmare is over, they are unsure of what happened as the experience seemed so vivid and real. These nightmares often worsen when users attempt to wean themselves off the drug.
- Psychotic Behavior
Psychotic and irrational behavior has also been associated with the use of and withdrawal from Ambien. Users have reported speaking incoherently, shouting, screaming, talking to imaginary people, making threats, and striking out at those around them without having any recollection of it after the effects wear off.
When you take Ambien, you’re supposed to be completely asleep. However, this doesn’t always happen. Either the Ambien doesn’t have the intended effect or its effects don’t wear off enough the next day. This can lead to unusual visual experiences such as seeing things out of the corner of your eye or misidentifying the objects around you.
- Extreme Dependence and Withdrawal
One of the worst aspects of Ambien is how incredibly difficult it can be to come off of. Users often report an inability to get to sleep without using the drug and terrible nightmares, hallucinations, and mood changes when they try to cut back.
Choose Non-Addictive Natural Alternatives to Prescription Sleep Aids
The effect of synthetic sleep aids are too unpredictable to be considered safe for most individuals. There are simply too many variables. Ambien may interact negatively with other prescription drugs, especially those for anxiety and pain. This sleep aid also cannot be mixed with alcohol, even just one serving.
Furthermore, diet must be taken into consideration. The Standard American Diet is loaded with neurotoxic chemicals such as aspartame, MSG, BHT, BHA, and food dyes, which already interfere with normal brain function. There have never been any tests or research on how these artificial neurotoxins interact with prescription hypnotics.
For my patients who struggle with insomnia, I recommend two key supplements. These supplements have not only been very effective in treating insomnia but can help you gradually and safely wean off prescription sleep aids.
1. Diamond Nutritional’s Chelated Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common reasons for anxiety and insomnia. Over 85% of my patients were deficient in this essential mineral when they first came to my office. Without adequate levels of magnesium, your nervous system is unable to function as it is meant to.
Adding Diamond Nutritional’s Chelated Magnesium to your diet can help ease feelings of anxiety and restlessness and help your mind and body relax in a natural way. Chelated magnesium is very small, which makes it easy to absorb even for those who struggle with poor digestion.
2. Diamond Nutritional’s Sleep Support Formula
If you find that you need more support than magnesium alone can offer, try Diamond Nutritional’s Sleep Support Formula. This formula contains valerian, an herbal hypnotic that works similarly to Ambien but without the potentially-dangerous side effects. It also contains jujube extract, passionflower, and L-Theanine to relax both both and mind so you can get the deep, satisfying rest your body needs to function at its best.
If you’re currently taking Ambien or another prescription sleep aid, never stop suddenly as you may experience severe withdrawal. Instead, talk with your doctor about reducing your dosage safely while replacing it with our magnesium or sleep support formula.
Remember, whether you’re taking a prescription or natural sleep aid, (with the exception of magnesium) never mix them with alcohol. This is an unsafe combination that could have serious consequences for your health. Also, never take more than prescribed/recommended of any type of sleep aid. Give them time to work and use them only as directed.
Ambien and other prescription sleep aids artificially alter your brain chemistry and can have potentially-devastating consequences for your health. Natural mineral and herbal treatments work with your body naturally to treat the cause of insomnia so, over time, you likely won’t have to use anything to get to sleep at all!
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/killerpillresearch/recordsalesofsleepingpills.pdf—This link no longer exists