May 30, 2018

Roseanne and Ambien: Racism won't Be a Side Effect


Roseanne and Ambien: Racism won't Be a Side Effect, But There Are Many, Many Others

The Roseanne saga took an unexpected turn in the week because the actress returned to Twitter to elucidate that the tweet that led to the cancellation of her show was sent out while she was on Ambien.

Sanofi, the drug company that creates the drug, fired back a tweet of their own.

“People of all races, religions, and nationalities work on Sanofi a day to enhance the lives of individuals around the world,” the corporate said.

“While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism isn't a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” By mid-day, #Ambien was one of the highest trends on Twitter.

It maybe true that racism isn’t a side effect, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many, many other side effects to the drug.

In fairness, it might have required quite an epic Twitter thread for the corporate to list all of them.

In my book The Sleep Revolution, I spent the higher part of a chapter writing about so-called sleep aids (just because you’re not awake doesn’t mean you’re asleep) and therefore the very real dangers they pose, which can outlive the present Twitter feud.

So whether or not you've got a while suddenly freed up by the cancellation of the Roseanne reboot, here’s an abridged version of that chapter.


An entire industry has arisen to facilitate our attempts to urge more sleep.

In us, quite 55 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written just in 2014, with sales topping $1 billion.

A 2013 Centers for Disease Control report stated that 9 million Americans—4 percent of all adults—use prescription sleeping pills.

It also found that ladies are bigger users of sleeping pills than men; that sleeping-pill consumption increases with age and education, which white adults consume quite the other racial group.

I asked several sleep experts what they thought of the 4 percent number from the CDC, and therefore the general conclusion was that the survey number involved significant underreporting.

A National Sleep Foundation poll found startlingly high rates of sleep aid usage among women, with 29 percent reporting that they use a sleep aid of some kinda minimum of a couple of nights hebdomadally.

The survey by Parade magazine of quite fifteen thousand people found that 23 percent of respondents took sleeping pills once every week and 14 percent took them nightly.

the matter is global: in 2014, people around the world spent a staggering $58 billion on sleep-aid products, a figure projected to rise to $76.7 billion by 2019.

Not surprisingly, the utilization of sleeping pills is highest among those that regularly get but five hours of sleep an evening.

For the drug industry that stands to take advantage of today’s sleep crisis, business is sweet and therefore the future looks bright.

But the strength of this market is simply a mirrored image of the depth of the matter.

And although marketers use the soothing term “sleep aids,” burnout is that a necessary condition that feeds the sleep-aid market.

“In twenty years, people will reminisce on the sleeping- pill era as we now reminisce on the acceptance of cigarette smoking,” Jerome Siegel, director of UCLA’s Center for Sleep Research told me.

“Movies and television glamorized smoking. Advertisements, often with doctors or actors posing as doctors, were wont to sell cigarettes.

”Only after a few years and lots of studies linking cigarettes to carcinoma and other diseases did the govt step in to manage tobacco advertising.

So we may have moved beyond the age of Joe Camel and advertisements proclaiming “More doctors smoke Camels than the other cigarette!” and “Give your throat a vacation . . . Smoke a fresh cigarette,” but as Siegel put it, “history appears to be repeating itself.

The chronic use of sleeping pills is an ongoing public health disaster.”

Sleep difficulties can become serious medical problems, as I discuss within the Sleep Disorders chapter.

For the overwhelming majority folks, however, sleep difficulties are a life-style

Yet we tend to treat all our sleep-related woes an equivalent way: with a pill. this is often hubris on the size of Greek mythology.

We expect as if by magic, to wrestle sleep into submission.

This isn’t accidental. Combine the marketing power of the fashionable pharmaceutical industry with a client market that has, potentially, every fatigued and burned out worker—which is to mention nearly every worker—and you’ve got the makings of the juggernaut that's the fashionable sleep-aid industry.

 As Matthew Wolf- Meyer put it within the Slumbering Masses, by “empowering medical practitioners, pharmaceuticals, and caffeine as mediators in individuals’ relationships with sleep,” we've created a world where “rather than a mild sovereign, sleep has become demonized and rendered an object of medical and scientific control.”

As numerous folks blow out in our efforts to stay up in today’s high-pressure, always-on world, we’ve made it easier and easier for the pharmaceutical industry to tighten its grip on us and expand its reach.

Instead of questioning how we live our lives, we fall prey to stylish marketing that promises us health, happiness, sleep, and energy.

And who wants to be the naysayer, the Luddite who rejects such progress? an excellent deal of ingenious and insidious brainpower, alongside billions of dollars, goes into selling us an answer that doesn’t actually solve our problems but only disguises and prolongs them.

The most common pharmaceutical weapon we use to knock ourselves out is that the drug zolpidem, which you almost certainly know as Ambien.

It accounts for quite two-thirds of the sleeping pills sold within us.

It is also sold under the soothing names Intermezzo, Sublinox, Zolfresh, and Hypnogen.

That the last one is a component peculiarly apt since zolpidem is part of a category of medicine referred to as hypnotics, which work to induce and lengthen the duration of sleep.

Of the 55 million prescriptions written for sleeping pills within us in 2014, 38 million were for zolpidem, accounting for sales of quite $320 million.

Lunesta, another hypnotic, marketed with a seductive green butterfly logo, had quite $350 million in sales within us in 2014, which figure doesn't include the generic version, eszopiclone, which generated another $43 million.

When you hear the stories of individuals who became hooked on sleeping pills, you realize that they really shouldn’t be called sleeping pills in the least.

Because we now know that simply not being awake doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually asleep.

It’s not the clean, binary, game the drug manufacturers would have us believe.

This is why sleeping pills aren’t the answer to our sleep-deprivation crisis—they’re another crisis masquerading as an answer, offering a false promise that takes us beyond the advantages of real, restorative sleep.

Harvard school of medicine professor Patrick Fuller explained to me the difference between natural sleep and drug-induced sleep.

Sleeping pills typically target just one of the various different chemical systems employed by the brain as a part of the sleep process, which “necessarily produces an imbalance within the chemical signaling by which the brain achieves normal sleep and should limit restorative slow-wave sleep.

The newer drugs like Ambien produce more naturalistic sleep but can have side effects, albeit rarely, like sleep eating and sleepwalking, which by definition aren't a neighborhood of normal sleep behavior.”

This limbo state, once we aren't really awake but not really asleep, may result in behaviors starting from the harmless and humorous to the disturbing and dangerous.

And a part of the danger is that you simply will quite likely haven't any memory of whatever you are doing.

The Today show’s Julia Sommerfeld was a daily user of Ambien until she describes as her “wake-up call.

” Her Mastercard company called to report suspicious activity on her account—nearly $3,000 charged to the shop Anthropologie at 2 a.m. Her initial reaction—a fraud! was quickly disproven, within the sort of an e-receipt at the highest of her inbox: she had been the perpetrator of an Ambien-induced online shopping spree.

On other occasions, while on Ambien, she had also consumed large quantities of sugar right out of the bag devoured two of her sons’ decorated Easter eggs, and written an embarrassing email to her boss.

What finally got her to kick the hypnotic habit was her husband invoking their toddler son.

“How are you able to make certain you’d never hurt Jude?” he asked.

“What if you made the decision to place him within the car?” actually, during a University of Washington study, people that took generics of Ambien, Desyrel, or Restoril was nearly twice more in danger of being involved during a driving accident.

In response to growing concerns, the FDA in 2013 cut the recommended dose of zolpidem in half—in half!—for women and commenced requiring stronger warning labels highlighting the risks of driving an automobile after taking extended-release versions of the drug.

it had been a big step forward—as well as a dramatic, unequivocal acknowledgment of how the drug manufacturers are allowed to take advantage of a sleep-deprived public for therefore long.

Ambien has also been used as a defense in criminal trials—a pharmaceutical version of the “Twinkie defense.”

On The Fix, a site about recovery and addiction, Allison McCabe told the story of Lindsey Schweigert, a thirty-one-year-old working for a contractor.

Returning from a business trip exhausted, she took one dose of generic Ambien.

Several hours later, when she emerged from her zombie state, she was in police custody.

She’d gotten out of bed, filled the bath and left the water running, taken her dog out, climbed into her car, and, while driving, collided with another car.

She failed a sobriety test after falling 3 times when asked to steer a line.

The police charged her with driving under the influence.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of six months, but Schweigert’s lawyer pointed to the warning the label on the Ambien she took and argued that she belonged within the hospital, not jail.

The label read: After taking Ambien, you'll rise up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you simply don't know you're doing.

the subsequent morning, you'll not remember that you simply did anything during the night. . . . Reported activities include: driving a car (“sleep-driving”), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex, sleepwalking.

Put aside for a flash the absurdity of this label and therefore the incontrovertible fact that it exists.

Or file it under Warning Labels Apparently Written by The Onion.

The charges were dropped, though Schweigert was left with a suspended license and nearly $10,000 in lawyers’ fees.

The more of those stories I hear, the more shocked I'm at the number of individuals who walk off from such incidents with similar consequences—a suspended license, a financial burden, but ultimately nothing more.

Because of the FDA warning, the results of Ambien use are treated as a side effect, not as a criminal offense.

I asked Ted Olson, a former US lawman, to elucidate why something that might be a criminal offense in one context isn't in another.

“Criminal laws aren't well-suited for prosecutions in these sorts of cases,” he explained, “because of the problem in articulating standards for impairment from various sorts of medication and, for that matter, for driving while tired, sleep-deprived, emotionally distracted, et cetera.


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