Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Confessions of a sleeping-pill junkie

MSNBC reports on an Ambien junkie (via Kevin MD):
Right off I had trouble adjusting to my new schedule. The workdays went by slowly and the evenings all too quickly, and by the time I got into bed, it was often midnight or later. Knowing I could get only six hours of sleep at the most, I would start to panic. Worrying about not sleeping kept me from sleeping, and by the time my alarm clock sounded, I was lucky if I’d gotten four hours.
So by the time I turned to the sleep aid Ambien for relief, I was desperate — and primed to become an addict.
And I started abusing it almost immediately: I ignored the prolific warnings on the package, called multiple doctors to get it, mixed it with alcohol and took more than the prescribed amount. The makers of this drug never intended it to be used in any of those ways. And neither did I.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Interesting article!

I am so thrilled to have found your site (via Kevin MD blog). I have been taking Ambien since January. I began having horrible insomnia. I was waking up every 2 hours and if I was not in bed by 11:00 a.m. - would get a second wind until 2:00 a.m. or so! And, then I would have muscle pains so severe that when I finally did get to sleep - they would wake me up - and keep me up - all night long. Once I started taking Ambien and getting a full nights rest - the muscle pains went away.

I have finally found a doctor who has discovered that I have adrenal fatigue - and because my cortisol levels are so messed up - it was wrecking havoc on my sleep.

Great blog, by the way!

Michael Rack, MD said...

thanks, Kelly.
glad your sleeping better.
thanks for reading

Sara E Anderson said...

Thanks for posting this link - I'm a kind of lifelong insomniac who just started taking at least 5 mg Ambien almost daily within the last month. At first, I avoided taking it as much as possible, but I finally realized that my insomnia was related to messing with my normal dose of antidepressants. I'm also trying to recover from a brain injury, and constantly reshuffling the drugs I'm taking. There is, of course, a big psychological element to all of this, which I'm trying to sort out with counseling.

Weirdly enough, my gp advised that I just take the Ambien when I feel I need it, but that my life and medical situation are too screwed up to bother worrying about a dependence on Ambien right now - she suggested I could address a possible dependence when I sort the rest of my issues out. I kind of grudgingly took the advice, but my nightly pill-popping is really scaring my husband - who has to be happy with my sleep habits if I'm going to be. We've even resorted to sleeping seperately for a few weeks, which is not an arrangement we like much.

If it were possible to complicate matters even more, I've recently started taking psychostimulants to address attention problems related to my brain injury, and thus lost my ability to nap.

Sorry to dump all of this on you, but as a layperson - actually, a molecular biologist and now wikipedia neurologist, I think my case is pretty interesting, and thought you might too.

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