The prescription drug Ambien is in the news this week after actress Roseanne Barr says she took the drug and then sent out racist messages on Twitter. Many users have reported taking the drug and while sleeping then drove, ordered things online, had bad dreams and conversations with people they don’t remember. Dr. Janice Kuhn is a psychotherapist in Omaha and says physicians look in many directions when treating a patient, including their sleep cycle.
Dr. Kuhn says when used appropriately, medications for insomnia can be very helpful because not sleeping has a whole host of side effects on people. Sleeping is an important part of psychiatry and it is something they will address.
Dr. Kuhn says when someone takes Ambien it is very important they be in bed when they take it or take the medication and go directly to bed. People can override that medication. She says, “If people take it during the day, it is going to have an huge impact on your thoughts and behaviors and so taking it properly is very important. Yes, some people use Ambien to get high. To try to function and see what is going to happen if they take it during the day so there is a negative side to it as well.”
Dr. Kuhn says she does see more issues with Ambien in her practice with people having conversations with people, sleep walking and driving. She says there is enough evidence out there and reports of people using Ambien and doing things they can’t remember in a court of law as defense for people who are driving and having a car accident while under the influence of Ambien.
Dr. Kuhn says looking at the drug itself, it is a controlled substance and a prescription is needed to obtain it. It is used worldwide and has been on the market since 1992. It is also the number one sleep agent prescribed on and off for quite some time. It is primarily used for people who have onset insomnia, meaning those who have problems falling asleep.