Thursday, 16 August 2018
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What is Ambien? How the drug Roseanne Barr blamed for her racist post can affect people

What is Ambien? How the drug Roseanne Barr blamed for her racist post can affect people
31 May
4:07

THE backlash against Roseanne Barr went from bad to worse after the fallen comedian blamed a sleeping pill for her offending tweet.

“It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting,” she wrote on Twitter.

Immediately the manufacturer Sanofi took to social media to note that “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication”.

Barr later tweeted that she had strange experiences while taking the drug late at night.

WHAT IS AMBIEN?

Ambien is a sleeping pill used to treat insomnia.

The drug, of which the generic name is zolpidem, is one of the most widely-prescribed sedative-hypnotic medications.

The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhoea and feeling “drugged”. It’s also been linked to memory loss, anxiety and allergic reactions.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the medicine in 2013, ordering manufacturers to lower doses following studies that patients “face a higher risk of injury due to morning drowsiness,” CBS News reported.

CAN AMBIEN MAKE YOU DO ‘WEIRD STUFF’?

A small percentage of users have reported odd behavioural and psychiatric side effects from taking the sleeping pill.

According to Vox, fewer than 1 per cent of users have also reported experiencing abnormal thinking, delusions and aggressive behaviour.

The internet is filled with stories of people doing strange things while taking the medication. There’s even a subreddit devoted to people sharing their experiences.

One user describes how he ended up “shaving my balls and snapchatting it to half of the people on my friends list with the caption, ‘Smooothest balls in AMurica tha US.’”

Another screwed a cookie to a table, while a craftier user claimed they built a cabinet for their bathroom and woke up with no recollection of doing so.

Perhaps the most bizarre was the person who claimed to have spent more than $3000 on Golden Tibetan Yaks.

Celebrities’ bizarre behaviour has also been linked to Ambien.

Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a series of tweets discussing his excitement over a Tesla shareholder meeting.

He later posted that “tweeting on Ambien isn’t wise”.

Tiger Woods was arrested for a DUI last year after he was found parked on the side of the road, asleep. During a sobriety test, he slurred, couldn’t walk in a straight line and appeared “out of it”. He was found to have a cocktail of prescription drugs in his system, including Ambien.

Of course, none of this excuses Barr’s tweets. There’s no medical evidence or stories of sleep drugs making a person more racist.

But as Quartz notes, it could explain why she felt compelled to share her views at this particular time.

The comedian is no stranger to racism, after all. Former US Ambassador to the UN and national security adviser Susan Rice shared a tweet from her in 2013 that described her as “a man with big swinging ape balls”.

According to CBS, the president of ABC Entertainment Channing Dungey deemed her tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values”, and she was dumped from the network.

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