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America's Number One Prescription Sleep Aid Could Trigger 'Zombies,' Murder and Other Disturbing Behavior

Ambien is becoming better known for triggering bizarre behavior than it is for treating insomnia.

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Not everyone who engages in bizarre behavior as a result of taking Ambien ends up in legal trouble. And some people enjoy the high they get from the drug so much that they are willing to overlook the blackouts and negative consequences that result from their drug use. Most recreational users started out taking the drug to treat insomnia, but found that if they fought the drug’s sleep-inducing effect, they could get really high. “It's like having that last drink at the bar when you know you should go home -- I'd fight the pill's effects and stay up, often telling my friends insane things like how to turn the light in the room into energy, or how paintings of forest scenes on their walls were actually drawings of mermaids bathing themselves in blood,”  writes one young woman whose addiction to Ambien caused increasingly bizarre and alienating behavior. She continued taking the pill and staying awake regularly until one morning she woke up with two black eyes and a cut across her nose. 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. She took a break, but was soon back to taking it regularly, filled with rationalizations for her erratic behavior (All 20-somethings take drugs!) It wasn’t until she was found wandering the Brooklyn streets in the middle of the night, nearly naked, that she was able to give it up for good.Ironically, you are more likely to be successful using the Ambien defense if you  injure or kill someone than if you just crash into a parked car or a tree. DWI laws usually just require the prosecution to prove that the defendant was loaded and got into a car to drive. There’s no requirement to show intention. When someone is harmed, however, it is up to the prosecutor to prove that the defendant was aware enough to be guilty of the crime. If people on Ambien are acting in an automatic, or unconscious state, it’s hard to claim that they have knowledge of their actions. That’s why people like Lindsey Schweigert get suspended licenses while Donna Neely, who was sleep-driving on Ambien and killed a mother of 11, was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter.

Rapper Eminem, whose albums have titles like “Relapse” and “Recovery,” has been open about his  battles with prescription drug addiction, including his near overdose on methadone, his relapse, and his eventual detox.  He  blames Ambien, however, for huge lapses in his memory over five years and an extended period of writer's block. “…a lot of my memory is gone. I don't know if you've ever taken Ambien, but it's kind of a memory-eraser. That shit wiped out five years of my life. People will tell me stories, and it's like, "I did that?" I saw myself doing this thing on [television network] BET recently, and I was like, "When was that?"” Eminem has kept some of his writing from that period, admitting to Rolling Stone that “It fucking creeps me out…Letters all down the page – it was like my hand weighed 400 pounds. I have all that shit in a box in my closet. As a reminder that I don’t ever want to go back.” 

Tiger Woods was also famously associated with Ambien when one of his mistresses claimed that she and the golfer would have “ crazy Ambien sex.” Ambien lessens inhibitions and erases memories, an ideal combination for someone who is cheating on his spouse. The buzz created by the drug appears to enhance sex as well. One woman  described feeling “very relaxed and sensual” when she had sex on Ambien. “I suddenly have floaty energy. . I am tired, but energetic. It’s almost like I’m in a dreamlike state. I might compare it a little to weed, but nothing that I’ve done really compares, to be honest.”

 
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