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The Ambien Diaries (popula.com)
117 points by gpresot on July 23, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments



I've been taking Ambien on and off for the past 8 years. Stretches where I've taken Ambien for a consecutive year.

I've done exactly what the author talks about: write long incoherent but beautifully written poetry, dive deep into studies and journals about the most random subjects, and have auditory hallucinations. But, what she doesn't talk about is the horror stories that come with it.

I've destroyed countless relationships. I've had friends that refuse to pick up any of my calls after 12am. I've crashed my car into a tree because of sleep eating. I've withdrawn from the medication, and don't sleep for 3-4 days. I've taken Ambien, then drank an entire bottle of wine, and the next morning to find out that I took 6 more Ambiens. I should be dead.

If you haven't taken Ambien in the past, and are interested, I would just avoid it at all costs.


I’d been on Ambien (Stilnox locally) uninterruptedly from 2002 until a few months ago, April 2018. My main aim was to just shut down after days of work at a family business job that I loathed and most of my side-effects were binge eating and little else (to the point that I always ensured my home was entirely devoid of food). I was capable of taking ten, 12 doses a night.

In April I quit cold turkey and sought psychiatric help. I also had major depression going. Fifteen days of rehab on Italy’s national health service served wonders. I still have trouble falling asleep, but fuck it.

It turns out I have a genetic mutation that makes me fairly immune to withdrawal effects from benzodiazepines and pseudonenzodiazepines such as zolpidem but seriously people don’t go down this route.


Out of curiosity, have to tried vigorous exercise? Any time I've had issues sleeping in the past, as soon as I got into a workout regiment, it got me right back to a normal sleep schedule.


The correct "out of curiosity" would be "what were you taking it for".

The rhetoric about exercise is sound and great advice for 80% of people. But it's annoying for people with mental health issues (particularly those that have (a) objectively valid ICD-10/DSM-5 diagnoses and (b) live a normal life with medications) to be told to walk it off.

It's almost like advising cancer patients to eat some fruit once in a while. (A sudden switch to eating a wide variety of fruits truly seems to have improved my immunity, but I'm not on chemo...)


People with mental health issues like those described don't need to hear about exercise, but not for the reasons you mention. They (should) already hear it from their doctors every visit (and they will have a professional they visit regularly to monitor their health situation, the drugs in question are very bad for you).


Not OP, but for me while working out helps being unable to sleep is tightly coupled with anxiety and my mind spinning on something. For some people the anxiety is directly related to being worried about being unable to fall asleep.

One thing that helped was to recognize that it's okay if you don't fall asleep - taking the pressure off made it less stressful. Another thing was recognizing I've never failed to eventually fall asleep.

Sleep is a weird thing though - and the lack of conscious continuity, I think people would be more afraid of it if it wasn't something we were already used to.


Me personally, I used to spend a lot of sleepless nights stressing out over something or another. Now I give myself an hour. I get up and work on the problem. I’m miserable the next day. But often my brain decides it wants sleep more than laying in bed worrying.

I’d recommend it to anyone, but for sure talk to a doctor.


Have you tried meditation and mindfulness? Curious if clearing your mind and relaxation techniques would allow you to combat the anxiety of being worried of not falling asleep? If not, why haven't you tried it?


I found CBT to be most helpful for me, I did try the mindfulness meditation but think I didn't do it consistently enough to get a lot of value out of it.


What are you worried about?


I do 45 minutes of intense cardio at the gym four or five days a week. It doesn't work for me. Which is to say, it does all sorts of wonderful things to my general sense of well-being, but does not cure my insomnia.


Have you tried meditation and mindfulness? Curious if clearing your mind and relaxation techniques would allow you to combat the anxiety of being worried of not falling asleep? If not, why haven't you tried it?


Yeah, the stuff is not fun -- I was prescribed it about a decade ago to deal with neuralgia-related sleep disturbance -- took it once, felt like I was being dragged under water by some unseen hand and couldn't come up -- the fear set in -- discarded remainder + never took again.


When I had a bad experience with Ambien (check my comment above) I thought what a fitting great name Ambien is. It totally recks your understanding of surrounding. I can't forget that when I went under my bed sheets it felt like I was in a different house. A very subtle but scary feeling. Like sleep paralysis except it's much more visual and confusing.


I've heard the slightly terrifying proposal that Ambien actually doesn't help you sleep at all, it just gives you sleep paralysis and fucks you up enough that you're unable to remember having spent the entire night awake and delirious.


As crazy as it sounds, I believe this; but seems like a very hard-to-prove hypothesis.


This is true. Ambien doesn't help you sleep.

I'm ambien right now. I was clean for 1 1/2 month but i cant anymore.


Do you happen to know the genetic mutation? I've gotten a 23andMe and Promethease report so wondering if I could check.


I took Ambien for four months (the sort of period it should normally be used for...even that pushes the upper limit) after a very loud and public event kicked off by severe sleep deprivation and stress.

It worked wonderfully. I'd take it and lie down and quickly fade off to a sort of sleep. I say sort of because apparently it isn't really a sleep, and doesn't have all of the benefits of sleep, but it was far better than the narcolepsy I was experiencing.

I looked forward to taking Ambien because it made the sleep process so effortless and nice. I renewed prescriptions and would actually think ahead to the moment when I got to enjoy an Ambien.

Then my insurance stopped covering it. The price is quite low, but it was a flag to me that I should probably stop: The system had said that I'd hit the limit of what I should take.

So I stopped. That was it.

Never had sleep walking. No weird phone calls. No "Walrus". When I took one I always did it with the intention of sleep, and immediately preparing for sleep.

So that is my counterpoint, I suppose. Real sleep is far better, but as an actual sleep aid, especially in high stress, it...works. Should anyone abuse it for other purposes? Absolutely not. Should they try to use it for a high? No, of course not.


If the drug has a non trivial chance of making you lose your mind, and no way to identify that it will do that without losing your mind, it might not be appropriate to ever use it, even if it works well for some people.


That's why we have doctors, to weigh the risks versus benefits and prescribe treatment in the patient's best interest.

I suspect that some of the worst side effects might have genetic risk factors. Hopefully researchers will determine whether people with particular genes are at greater risk of suffering mental problems from Ambien.


I think doctors as a group of individuals have proven they can't be trusted to weigh the risks. Consider the opiods epidemic as an example

There must be better alternatives to get a good nights sleep.

OP description of " I renewed prescriptions and would actually think ahead to the moment when I got to enjoy an Ambien." sound a lot like early stage addiction.


The one which the majority of addicts started from street users? Doctors seem to be the convenient scapegoat especially considering that ironically cracking down on pill mills has proven to be a 'we need bigger morgues' disaster with the iron law of prohibition resulting in fentanyl taking its place.

While pill mills aren't ideal clearly they were a form of harm reduction of sorts by ensuring very regularly measured doses - still possible to overdose of course but that is from upping it or taking it again too soon as opposed to having 'one dose' which is more like ten of the normal.

The absolute sickest part of it all is that despite this addicts can get more than enough painkillers yet the quixotic knee-jerk 'Do something! This is something lets do it!' crackdowns are hurting the actual chronic pain patients.


If we can't trust doctors then we have a much bigger problem that can't be solved by banning medicines which the FDA has determined to be safe and effective for treating certain conditions. While there's room for improvement in medical care standards, issues with a handful of drugs aren't sufficient evidence to provoke distrust. Most doctors get it right more often than wrong.


>Consider the opiods epidemic as an example

The one where drug companies actively lied about both how addictive their drugs were and the best way that they should be prescribed? Doctors aren't perfect, and there are some that are truly terrible, but in general their opinion is trustworthy.


I am hella addicted to amazon then. Holy shit.


Doctors did fine prescribing opioids in the 70s and 80s. They're not the cause of this epidemic.


Yea--I'm not blaming doctors, nor drug companies.

Americans are misserable on so many levels. I believe most people who really liked opiates, are also very depressed.

Life in America, since the 80'-90's has been not great for many of us.

I'm not suprised people liked a drug that lifted the depression, and completely took away the anxiety.


So who should you trust to weigh risks? Every group that needs to weigh risks sometimes gets it wrong, that is what makes something a risk (uncertainty)


Fairly sure the opioid epidemic isn't caused doctors sometimes getting it wrong.


I am sure some doctors share the opinion that maybe we shouldn't ever use ambien.


Alcohol has a non-trivial chance of making someone completely addicted to it, along with side effects that can ruin the lives of bystanders.

Does that mean no one should ever take alcohol as well?

The world is not black and white.


Doctors should not prescribe alcohol. From a health and safety point of view, yes one should not consumer alcohol.


Ethanol is the safest, cheapest, and best-studied intervention for acute methanol poisoning though


I don't think this is relevant to the reason why most people are using ethanol, though... or most of the people using Ambien for that matter, at least is the impression I get from reading the discussion thread on this post!


From what I have read about Ambien I feel like the descent is much more sudden and unpredictable with the sleeping pills.


Ambien descent for me was absolutely momentary. One moment you feel normal, one moment later you feel absolutely different. For me it's even debatable if it ever makes you asleep. It feels more like it paralyzes you. I guess, I never had a "black out" from Ambien (like sleep walking etc) and the portions I remember were what I can describe as hell on earth.


Ambien is a prescription medication; alcohol is a recreational drug.


Shouldn't that depend on how bad the disease is that you are trying to cure with the drug?


> I took Ambien for four months

Every night for four months? Yeah that is stretching it from everything I've read. I started using it off/on when I went through a period of insomnia almost a decade ago. The doctor was very strict that it was for not more than two-four weeks and that I should try to only use it every second night.

That insomnia passed, but I since used a half dose (5 mg) on average once every 7 days (that's the average but it's more like 2 or 3 nights every 2 or three weeks). I need it when traveling or during anything stressful going on at work. Nothing else works. In a new hotel room I can just lay there all night long unable to sleep because it's an unfamiliar environment. Or if I know I have to be up by a certain hour and give a presentation or have a possibly conflicting meeting the next day - no sleep.

I do wonder what the long term impacts of even this low intermittent usage is though. But the alternative is not working or traveling.


You seem to have anxiety, that might be a better treatment target.


Have you tried meditation and mindfulness? Curious if clearing your mind and relaxation techniques would allow you to combat the anxiety of being worried of not falling asleep? If not, why haven't you tried it?


I’ve tried it, I find in general regular exercise and relaxing yoga routines with some meditation before bed works in some situations. But doesn’t work for the new hotel or “big meeting next day” scenarios. I end up just meditating all night forcing the rehearsing thoughts out of my head and still not falling asleep until around 4am. It then becomes a performance thing, I know I want to have slept so I can perform so I go for what I know will 100% work.

For the sibling comment: I’ve also tried other general anxiety treatments - but they are all be pretty serious stuff you don’t want to use too much if you don’t have too. Since my anxiety seems limited to certain situations I find it best to use the minimum targeted just at those directly.


I looked forward to it — yes! Mine was abuse (see my other post further down in the thread if you’re interested) but it was so damned convenient to just flip a figurative switch and have the lights go out.


Thanks for sharing your experience and articulating this so well.

I have been on the same dose of Ambien for nearly 2 years. I'm fortunate that it does its job with zero side effects. The negative experiences and feedback in this thread are overwhelming - if I were unfamiliar with it, I would be freaked out!

It's generally accepted that Ambien's benefits outweigh the costs. I don't mean to downplay the negative experiences, but it's not as bad as this article/thread infer. Ultimately, it's something to discuss with a GP or Psychiatrist.


I take a half an Ambien to sleep on overnight flights, no side effects that I can discern. It's all about managing risks relative to benefits, and not always in an evenhanded way. 2 grams of Tylenol/paracetamol with a bottle of wine and it's bye bye, liver, yet you can buy it in a vending machine.


You might want to be careful with Ambien and airplanes.

A U.S. intelligence worker on a flight back to the U.S. from an assignment overseas tried to dynamite a plane while on Ambien.

Look up "Derek Stansberry": http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/04/28/disruptive.passenge...


Ok but that's a very odd comparison. It's well known and studied that _normal_ doses of Ambien can induce unpredictable behavior on humans including sleep walking and/or confusion. But 2 grams of paracetamol is 4 times the normal dose, and paired with a drug it should never ever be taken with.


It's absurd how easy it is to take ambien then forget that you took it 15 minutes later and redose. Fortunately, I think most Americans manage to stay in their houses when they do it.

I wonder how many people are carrying around deeply weird fucked up memories of their family members high on ambien.


I took Ambien 3 times, started after not being able to sleep for ~3 days (not directly after (I was able to naturally sleep after that day)). First 2 times were ok, didn't seem like I had any side-effects like sleep walking etc. The 3rd time I took, it gave me what I would describe as a psychotic breakdown. From an outer observer, I was sleeping (this was college and all my roomies were in the room, studying, I was "sleeping") but it felt very much like I was awake and there. I was completely dissociated from my own self and felt as if I was a "shoe seller in Venice". Never been in Venice in my life. When I was finally able to control my body after 2 hours of silently screaming, I started muttering about stuff and asked for help. I had no recollection of who I was. When my roomies brought me some water/food everything slowly became normal. I just felt what I would describe very drunk. I didn't feel intoxicated -- as in I could walk etc just fine -- but my mind was very "drunk". Not like a weed "high". After about half an hour, I was feeling alright and went back to sleep because I had an 8am the next day. Never touched Ambien again. The rest of my prescription was used by my roomie who was very into drugs. He never had any problems with it.


It sounds to me like it's a hyper-real dream in a way.


Meh, maybe, but I don't think so because all that 2 hours I never lost consciousness. There was no point in which my memory was "black". I was talking to my roommates, told them I'm going to bed, took Ambien, lied on my bed and suddenly started to feel very confused, forgetful and it "felt" like I'm somewhere else. It wasn't a very visual experience (like psychedelics) but it felt like I was so confused that I wasn't able to comprehend where I am.


I'm surprised it's even legal honestly. I see so many horror stories. Worse yet, they're so unpredictable. Not just "it hurt my liver", they're what you described. Zombies in real life. Crazy.


https://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/14/health/14sleep.html

I binge eat when I'm on Ambien, and have intense food cravings. That night I didn't have food, and there was a McDonalds about 5 minutes away from where I lived. I crashed into a stop sign three blocks into it.

Even as an anonymous poster, there are stories that I am too ashamed to even post about. If anyone sees this, and had some inclination to try Ambien recreationally, don't even try it. What's worse is that even after destroying every relationship I've ever had because of Ambien, I still can't quit it.


It is a controlled substance. Further note that the horror stories are seldom, if ever, by people actually using it as intended and as directed.

How to benefit from Ambien if having sleep problems: Take Ambien and immediately go lie comfortably in bed. Have no responsibilities and have the ability to sleep for 8 hours uninterrupted.

How not to benefit from Ambien: Use it to escape life. Use it recreationally. Take it when you have no intention to go to sleep, or even to try. Use it for chronic issues rather than temporary sleep issues.

I certainly don't want to take up the gauntlet of defending Ambien, but in any discussion about it the narrative gets dominated by abusers. And that's an important narrative -- it gets prescribed way more often than it should, and for far longer than it should ever be used -- but there are benefits as well.


I was prescribed Ambien after being a routine Tylenol PM user when I was in my upper teens. I had incredible trouble sleeping that affected my school life. I expected Ambien to behave similarly; at some point I'd start to FEEL like I was going to fall asleep where I was sitting. Sort of that drunk Tylenol PM feeling where your eyes start to close and you're drifting off so you head to bed. Hell I'm pretty sure my doc even told me to take it instead of TPM because it wasn't as harmful to my body.

That didn't happen at all, instead I started to see the room and objects in my peripheral floating, heard voices, etc. Thankfully I just had the urge to wander around my back yard and stare at the faces I was seeing in trees.

I never took it again after that. I don't think the risks of Ambien can even remotely be understated. I have friends that take it, not abusively, but every once and awhile they have some crazy event happen like being found naked on the beach or in someones house (thinking it was their own). Maybe it's a chemical reaction like the article describes but I don't see any harm in more people being aware of what CAN happen on it.

There are people sleep walking, sleep driving, etc on it. Seems like it has a huge affect on inhibitions/repression like the article mentions. The guy I know who went streaking on the beach would never do that in his wildest dreams if he were sober.


I disagree with you. I think what you call “abusers” , are just people that react differently than you to the same chemicals in the drug.


What I refer to as abusers in this context are those who intentionally use it for an altered state, and intentionally avoid falling asleep. That is, without question, abusing the drug.

Ambien is a hypnotic. If you don't fall asleep (it will push you close to the edge and you have to take the leap yourself) it absolutely puts you in a dangerous state of mind where you can be "awake" but not all of your controls are there. This is called the Walrus among abusers, and many seek out this state of mind. And when you read about people driving, streaking, doing crazy things, etc, it is usually in this condition.


My mother was prescribed it to deal with transient insomnia, and very much used as directed. For two nights she had fine sleep, and on the third day called me mid-day. She was sitting in a chair crying, and said totally calmly that she didn’t feel sad, and had no idea why she was crying. She stopped Ambien immediately and that was that.

I’d stay the fuck away from Ambien, period.


> I've crashed my car into a tree because of sleep eating.

I'm not very familiar with Ambien, but this seems like a non-sequitur. Do you mean sleep driving?


I would guess he means he took ambien, passed out/blacked out, and at that point decided he needed to go get something to eat while he was effectively "sleep-walking" and crashed


Sleep eating and sleep driving are two common behaviors exhibited while using Ambien. In that case, these two were likely combined.


Given what I have heard about Ambien I half-wonder why they don't include an option to tether yourself to your bed with a timer - perhaps with an emergency release to trigger some sort of alarm in case - since either you are sleep wandering and possibly going to do something dangerous or there was a real emergency and you need to get out.

Maybe something combined with Life-Alert or On-Star to be sure that they are coherent if it is released to cancel an alert?


> If you haven't taken Ambien in the past, and are interested, I would just avoid it at all costs.

IIRC, correct me if I'm wrong, Ambien is prescribed as sleep aid and also used in the USAF to nap on demand. I've never had narcolepsy AFAIK, with or without Ambien.


It is. You’re right. I never take Ambien recreationally.

Here’s the path I went down:

It quickly becomes this cyclical pattern where if you don’t take it, then you don’t sleep for days, so you’re forced to use it. And when I mean forced, I can’t go to work sleep deprived, especially in my line of work. You’ll build a tolerance quickly, then you begin ramping up your dosage, and this helps for awhile. But like a lot of long term ambien users know, you don’t fall asleep as easily anymore. Then the side effects really begin hitting you because you’re awake with a 30-60 mg of Ambien in you.

And if you have a history of drug abuse like I do, you do the dumbest thing possible and drink wine with ambien. This will knock you out for sure, but before that happens, you’ll begin doing extremely destructive things.

I’ve taken a considerable amount of drugs in my life, but Ambien is something else. It’s not a black and white drug as people say to just take and fall asleep. That’s how my first 6 months were like, but after 7 1/2 more years, it becomes something entirely different.


As a counterpoint, I've taken Ambien for like four years now, have never taken more than 20mg, and have never done anything destructive or hallucinated.


It's possible there is some genetic factor.


The USAF also gives amphetamines to its pilots to help them fly missions for over 24 hours without sleep.

I don't think that it's recommended for the general population though.


Do other sleep aids not work for you? Trazodone has helped me a lot.


I took ambien for a few weeks in grad school. I had to stop.

1) They say it's not habit forming. That may be true. But I intended to take it during the week, when I needed it most. On the weekends I wanted to stay up a bit later (not crazy, midnight versus 10pm. However, if I didn't take the ambien by 10:30pm I'd start to get a vicious migraine, that first weekend without it was miserable. I took it for a couple more weeks but the same thing happened each weekend.

2) About half the time it had no impact on me. I was wide awake and concious the entire night. Not able to focus well (entirely unproductive), but awake. I'd even eliminated caffeine by this point in an earlier (and ongoing) effort to counter my insomnia. But if I took it at 10 and hadn't fallen asleep by 11, I knew I'd be up until the next night.

3) When I did "sleep", there was a 50/50 chance I'd wake up with abs that felt like I'd been doing crunches all night long. I don't know what I was doing. I felt rested, but man was I sore.

I continued therapy and quit grad school in efforts to deal with my anxiety, and only after that was my insomnia properly dealt with. Which is a reminder, treat the condition not the symptoms.


Which is a reminder, treat the condition not the symptoms.

This needs repeating, over and over again. So much about western medication is about treating symptoms.


That's a rather weak criticism of a complex system of medicine. In many cases it's impossible to get a clear diagnosis of the underlying condition, and so treating the symptoms is the only practical option. Given that we have limited resources and imperfect knowledge, what's the alternative?


Yeah, not the way I look at it. The system of medicine (in the US, at least) is totally geared toward treating symptoms with a prescription.

Case in point: I was on prilosec for years. I weaned myself off it by moved to another over the counter med, but I was able to completely stop taking that went I went on a low carb diet--my reflux completely went away, which was a great surprise to me. At the time I was taking prilosec, the 90's, it was one of the most profitable drugs on the planet. There is a great incentive for doctors to just treat the symptom.

Btw, the reason I stopped taking prilosec: I had a followup endoscopy and saw from the video that the lining of my stomach was, rather than being smooth, completely covered in small bumps. When I asked the doc about it, he said they were harmless. After quizzing him about it, it was pretty clear that opinion wasn't backed by science, but the consensus among his peers. That was the last day I took prilosec.


> The system of medicine (in the US, at least) is totally geared toward treating symptoms with a prescription.

Based on the anecdotes you provided here, it seems like your doctor is geared towards treating symptoms rather than conditions. They're not all like that - my doc won't give me an ambien perscription for sleeping while I travel, she won't put wy wife on BP meds until she tries 6 months of changes in diet and exercise, and is very very picky about perscribing antibiotics for most illnesses.

It sucks that your doctor isn't a good one, but the nice thing about the US system is that you generally have a choice in docs, so I'd suggest you go shopping!


How many examples do you need of "treating the symptoms rather than the problem" before you concede it's an actual issue? Let's not just blame this on doctors.

Heart disease is the number one killer in the US, and it's preventable. But it's much easier for people to pop a pill than to change their lifestyle.

Pain killers are also massively overperscribed for back and neck pains which can often be resolved with adequate movement, posture, and stretching (i.e. yoga). But after a long day of sitting still in an office chair they prefer to just go home and remain sedentary (i.e. lay on the couch and watch tv), all of which also contributes to heart disease/circulatory problems as well.

The field of psychiatry is almost entirely geared towards treating symptoms with perscriptions.


Also, plenty of symptoms need treatment even if you can't fix the condition. Nobody [sane] is telling T1 diabetics to stop managing their blood sugar and get their pancreas fixed.


Interesting that you should bring up type I diabetes. It is a perfect example of how current medical practices treat symptoms, at the expense of patients. Why? Because treating it with drugs makes companies lots and lots of money. I have an in-law that took his medical condition into his own hands and went on a strict very-low carb diet. After a few months he was taking a fraction of the insulin he was previous to the diet. Why isn't this the first thing the medical community tells patients to do? Because there is no incentive. The drug companies wouldn't like it, selling so much less insulin.


I have a couple of relatives with T1D and that was exactly the first thing they were told to do. However doctors know that many people will not do this, and good doctors are more interested in helping the patient be healthy than being moralistic jerks, and so they prescribe insulin to meet the patients existing needs instead of saying "well you should have eaten better and then you wouldn't be dying so young".


> They say it's not habit forming

I don't know who the "they" is there, but the manufacturers don't say this, and the people who recommend its use don't say it either.

https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/zolpidem-tartrate.html

> Avoid prolonged use (and abrupt withdrawal thereafter); depression; elderly; history of alcohol abuse; history of drug abuse; muscle weakness; myasthenia gravis

> Zolpidem is recommended for the short-term management of severe insomnia that interferes with normal daily life, and should be prescribed for short periods of time only.


Looking at it now it seems it was marketed as less addictive/habit forming than the alternatives. My recollection may have been wrong about what was published at the time. However given my perpetually sleep deprived state back then a lot of memories are less precise than I’d like.


> 3) When I did "sleep", there was a 50/50 chance I'd wake up with abs that felt like I'd been doing crunches all night long. I don't know what I was doing. I felt rested, but man was I sore.

...So you're saying there's a way to get 6-pack abs _in your sleep_?


For me at least. Who knows what I was doing though or if my form was correct. Given my mental state at the time when I was awake (my insomnia and anxiety had gotten bad), I'm glad that's all I was doing.


Getting a 6-pack is more related to body fat percentage than building muscle.


I've had good friends commit suicide while there was Ambien in their system.

Not a drug I would take recreationaly, or with a prescription.

In fact, if they would like to remove it from the market, I would be in support.


Ambien is really a scary drug. I once had panic attacks while on it, where I really thought I was on the verge of a heart attack.

When Roseanne tweeted that racist twist, and blamed Ambien, a lot of people ridiculed her. The company who made Ambien even stepped up to claim Ambien doesn't make you racist. But I thought if the worst Ambien can do is make you spew out racist tweets, you're lucky.


Assuming she actually was on Ambien and not using it as a convenient scapegoat.


Considering she's still retweeting QAnon BS, I'm not surprised everyone is leaning toward the latter.


I kind of agree that you will have to be a racist first to act like a racist while on Ambien.

Saying that (and not trying to be flippant about the previous statement, or the follow statement), I hope Roseanne can find an alternative to whatever she was prescribed Ambien for.


It should be illegal. I had a prescription when I was 20. The first three times I took it, I had no issues. Swallowed, immediately laid down in bed, then knocked out ten minutes later. The fourth time, I had to deal with something after I had taken it. I didn't fall asleep.

I remember going back to my desk, looking into my PC case (it had plastic windows on the side so you could see inside), and beginning to hallucinate. The cabling inside stretched out into a landscape and it felt like I was looking at the horizon on some alien Giger-esque planet. Then I blacked out and woke up to see I had added a bunch of high school friends on LinkedIn. Nothing bad happened thankfully, but I never took it again.

At least when you black out on alcohol, your motor abilities are severely impaired, to the point that you're just as likely to simply pass out before you make it outside. With ambien, your body isn't limited by anything, but you still have no control over your actions.

The safest alternative is edibles.


> At least when you black out on alcohol, your motor abilities are severely impaired, to the point that you're just as likely to simply pass out before you make it outside.

That may be true for you, but it is completely false as a general statement. It is quite possible and very common for someone to be blacked out on alcohol while still functioning, sometimes appearing sober enough that people around them have no idea - they can carry on conversations, drive somewhere, hook up and have sex, it has even been used as defence in a murder case.


I had almost too similar of an experience to you (check my comment above) but I disagreed with your last paragraph. Ambien made me physically paralyzed and I was trapped to my bad for hours, hallucinating, in a state of confusion to the point I couldn't remember who and where I was. It can be pretty unpredictable.


> It was in 2005, my freshman year of college, that I took my first Ambien.

> These were the frontier days of the internet

I'm not sure 2005 qualifies as the frontier days of the Internet.


Yeah, about 25 years too late for that. 10 years too late to be frontier days for the web.


I'm not arguing that 2005 was in any way the beginning of the internet, but it was definitely the beginning of another epoch - Facebook, World of Warcraft, and YouTube were all brand new, and we were just two years away from the smartphone. Did online games, social media, and video sites exist before then? Oh yeah, absolutely, but things were becoming supercharged and life eating.


There's little doubt that we could use some standardized terms for different eras of the Internet, but I would characterize Facebook and YouTube as harbingers of the end of the frontier days.


I don't think "harbinger" is the right word here, I would reserve that for dot-bomb companies and services like myspace. That time (2000ish) had some pretty clear signals where things were going, while also being clear that it wasn't worked out yet.

By the time Facebook/YouTube/etc. showed up, the frontier was already a memory, and it was more a question of see who the big winners were going to be.


Absolutely. All of a sudden cities popped up that took up the cultural mindshare. You didn't search any more, you googled.


They kind of were. You can think of every new wave of organisational fashion as the new frontier days.

Think like this - first you had dial-in BBSes. Those had frontier days, peak and fall.

After BBSes came Usenet and IRC. Same trajectory. Both are almost dead.

After that we had PhpBB &al. Internet reimplementations of BBSes. Now you didn't go to alt.rec.anime, you went to somethingawful.com and posted stuff that made you cringe in the years after you graduated high school. Or you made webpages on geocities full of scrolling blinking text and slow-loading gifs.

Then we started getting stuff like 4chan, facebook, twitter, tumblr. Very different from one another, but all appeared at about the same time, so I'm counting them as a new frontier.

Currently I'm suspecting that Discord will have the same place in people's hearts that IRC had back in the day. It's practically a very media-rich IRC clone with features geared towards 10-20 year olds who play video games, i.e. the exact group who would pine about the "good old days" in about another 10-20 years.

Basically, whatever technology happens to be young at the time you're in high school is the "frontier of the internet" for you. It may just be a collection of BBS webforums or an entire form of communication like IRC.


Still, wasn't 2005 right in the middle of the whole "Web 2.0" phase?


compared to 2018 it might as well have been


Ambien is serious stuff. It works and people take it because some sleep is better than no sleep but a large subset of them have serious side effects. I'm not talking about the litany of 'standard' side effects you hear in RX commericals, I'm talking about weird shit. Black outs, sleep sex, voices, hallucinations, etc, it's not something to be trifled with. I'm terribly surprised it isn't more regulated than it is.


I was on ambien for several years. Over time I developed sleep walking, cooking etc. I once needed stitches after walking into a book case. Another time I mistakingly took my ambien I the morning instead of a different medicine. Passed out behind the wheel on a major highway.

My sleeping was never good even on it. I switched to neurontin for RLS and some CBTI for getting to sleep. The combination has been far more helpful for me than ambien, and without side effects.


I wrote an assignment in my undergrad neuropsychopharmacology course that the hallucinations and abnormal behaviour ambien causes might be due to a similar mechanism of action as ketamine. I was almost entirely going off my own recreational experiences, but I think I managed to find some paper linking GABA-A antagonism to NMDAR glycine binding.

Also, because someone hasn't shared it yet, the Ambien Walrus: http://ambien.blogspot.com/2010/12/ambien-walrus-collection....


The cartoons are great, but the comments thread below is pure gold, intermingled with some scary.

"Most people probably think handcuffs in the bedroom are sexy, but you and I both know mine are just to keep me from driving my car at night."


...and, further down, some really tragic.

"Ambien destroyed my life and I remember nothing of what happened. It has now been over five years since your lovely Ambien walrus convinced me to try to end my life and well as the lives of my children. We didn't go on any shopping spread or driving excursions, not that I remember, apparently he wanted more from me than my money, he wanted my life and the reasons I lived for.

My children are fine, thank God, even though now I will never see them again. Its been five years and a month since the last time I remember seeing them. I have been stuck in the legal system since then and it seems never ending. I will never again have the life I once had. I won't get to see my children graduate, I will never get another hug or snuggle from them. I did get my life from them. My nine year old son ran for help and saved all of us and I am thankful for that.

Before any of you take ambien, think of what can go wrong. I am the poster child of what can go wrong on ambien and I was crucified in the media for it and I will spend the rest of my life paying for it.

My name is Rebecca Koehler and I am from Oklahoma. Google it. It happened March 2, 2011. Never let it happen to you."


I kind of knew that people took Ambien for recreational use, but for the life of me I can't see why. The thing I hated the most about it was that I acted completely blackout drunk, but I felt perfectly normal and in control. Only to wake up the next day embarrassed about what kind of rediculous things I did or said online.

I can't see why anyone would want to do that intentionally. After it stops being able to put you to sleep, it is just a burden.


Ambien is an incredibly dangerous drug. Look up "Ambien Zombies." The stories are incredible: the criminal justice system can't handle sleep walking, sleep driving and sleep murder. In its more benign form, the zombification can lead to binge eating. If you wake up and the family pet is missing and there's a bloody mess in the kitchen, you know what happened. Look up the case of Tom Tuduj, though he is but one of many. Tom killed Gary Poter, who was a developer linked to Barack Obama through Tony Rezko, a Chicago-area fundraiser. There are many other, horrible cases. Stay away from Ambien.


Sleep is a fickle thing. I think some sleep habits are programmed into us when we are young (theory based on anecdotal observation with my kids and talking with others over the years). That said, having a shut down process and consistent schedule is really important. Getting rid of blue light, not eating several hours before bed, relaxing with less stimulatong activity, taking some Melatonin. Melatonin is not habit forming really works well for most people based on sleep studies. You still need the shutdown process, and then Melatonin boosts you into a sleep state. Excercising is also important for setting up good sleep. I think this is all most people need to do if they just have minor trouble falling asleep. Moderate to severe sleep issues can be symptoms of something else.


All this talk about how horrible Ambien is and how it should be banned, and yet no discussion of dosage? Ambien effects are extremely dose-sensitive. I've taken it for years to help me sleep and have never had an unpleasant experience or amnesia. That's probably because I've never taken more than 5 mg; usually 3 mg is enough.

10 mg for an average-sized adult is edging into the danger zone, and at 20 mg you'd better have somebody sober in the house to take away your car keys.

I suspect that in many cases doctors are simply prescribing doses that are too large.


My physician won't prescribe these to me; I've asked a number of times. In lieu of the Z drug [1] I was given a prescription for temazepam [0]. At first temazepam was great but lost effectiveness after a few weeks and made me feel anxious the morning after.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temazepam [1] https://www.tuck.com/z-drugs-nonbenzodiazepines/


Sorry, did you say you were prescribed temazepam as a sleep aid? I only thought this was used for chronic pain suffers to aid sleep. I know my grandfather was on it as without it the pain kept him awake indefinitely.


Yes, just as a sleep aid only.


I really like sleep and I have been on Ambien and Seroquel(off label) for sleep. At first it helped but if you really really like sleep I say the withdrawal is not worth the benefit of the extra sleep. Coming off them I didn't sleep for several days and my sleep schedule became really screwed up. I am still on something for sleep for this reason. Some studies show you go insane after 3-4 days of no sleep. I can confirm it definitely feels like that. If you plan to take it for life I guess but withdrawals can be miserable.


Seroquel off label... for sleep?! Seroquel is a pretty hefty neuroleptic, with all of many adverse effects implied. Does your doctor discuss the possible long term impact of its use?


No the doctor didn't give the long term consequences. I am not encouraging this. This is way more common then people think[1].

[1] https://nationalpost.com/health/seroquel-for-insomnia


Whoa... thanks for the article. I’m shocked, but I guess shouldn’t be surprised.


Seroquel is horrible. Half of one tablet made me feel so drained I could barely function thru half of the following day.


My wife takes it... not regularly, but perhaps 5-6 times per year, to deal with sleep issues. From what I can tell, there's no real side effects for her - she gets a decent sleep, and is refreshed. I took it 2x about 10 years ago - first time was... a bit spaced out after I woke up. Second time a few nights later I had probably the most horrific nightmare I'd ever had. Never touched it again.


Long-term user of benzos who never took Ambien here: the way people describe it, Ambien is dangerous. Long half-life benzos like Klonopin and Valium are not.

I only had a mild hazy kick the first two times I took Klonopin (and I was starting on two or three other meds at once); since then, I've used anything from 4mg to .25mg and never had trouble titrating either up or down. I don't have much of an anxiety problem if I skip my Klonopin altogether (it destabilizes my manic-depression, for which I'm stuffed with medications but titrate Klonopin for marginal effect; but nothing the day I stop Klonopin, only if I'm at ~2mg and skip it for a day.

The literature is slowly catching up too. A while ago there was a full moral panic about benzodiazepines, but I feel like this is part of the full moral panic about psych drugs (some of which is justified, because people (and sometimes unethical docs) are looking for answers in drugs that often aren't there.)


I've never taken Ambien, but I have heard the voices the author describes. I think they're fairly normal while falling asleep–they're called hypnagogic auditory hallucinations: https://patient.info/doctor/hypnagogic-hallucinations

> Auditory hallucinations are common but other senses are seldom involved. Auditory hallucinations can range from a few sounds to an elaborate melody. Threats or criticism are also reported.

In my case, sometimes it's music (usually quite beautiful, and forgotten the next morning) and sometimes like a news broadcaster conveying quite a lot of information (again, quite forgotten the next day).


I watched one of my (former) best friends, after Rowing practice at a top notch Ivy League school, take Ambien recreationally. It was terrifying to witness. He was someone else entirely, rambling, yelling, looking through me. I got the hell out of there.


It just made me sleep, which is what I had it for to begin with. Tried to use it recreationally once and ended up falling asleep at a concert. I'll stick with the intended usage.


Question to the insomniacs in this thread:

Have you tried meditation/ mindfulness? Curious if clearing your mind and relaxation techniques would allow you to combat the anxiety of being worried of not falling asleep that causes you to not sleep properly? If not, why haven't you tried it?


It just helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. Never had any issues unlike with melatonin, Benadryl, etc.


Matthew Walker, a sleep expert, says sleep aids like Ambien are counter-productive. https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/prescription-drugs/ambie... "Dangers aside, Ambien and other hypnotics don’t necessarily provide you the kind of sleep your body actually needs. In his book, “Why We Sleep,” Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that the sleep people get from taking hypnotics doesn’t have the same restorative quality as natural sleep. In an interview with New York Magazine, Walker explains that drugs like Ambien simply “switch off the top of your cortex, the top of your brain, and put you into a state of unconsciousness.” The drugs actually sedate you, he says, and “sedation is not sleep.” The good news for those who desperately crave sleep is that a variety of techniques and methods can help you achieve a blissful state of slumber without prescription medications. Here’s a look at some good ways to reboot your sleep cycle. ..."

Discussed at length in his book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34466963-why-we-sleep

Also mentioned in this review: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/better-th... "At last comes an explanation: According to the new book Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, the director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, the sleep people get on sleeping pills like Ambien is not true sleep. Drugs like these simply “switch off the top of your cortex, the top of your brain,” he explained to New York Magazine, “and put you into a state of unconsciousness.” That’s not sleep; that’s cryogenics. According to Walker, sleeping-pill sleep doesn’t have the same restorative powers—and there are lots, from an immune boost to emotional resilience—as good, old-fashioned zzzzs. Sleeping pills don’t even seem to work all that well. It’s true that some people say they fall asleep faster and sleep better on pills. But, as Walker writes, there’s little difference between the amount of time it takes someone to fall asleep with the help of a pill, compared to a placebo. Even a newer drug, suvorexant, only helps people fall asleep four to eight minutes faster, according to one study he describes. In addition to causing daytime grogginess, Walker argues, Ambien impairs memory and increases the risk of cancer and death. “Do you feel differently about using or continuing to use sleeping pills having learned about this evidence?” he asks the reader. This reporter does. Luckily, there is a better way. Walker recommends something known as CBT-I, or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. A major part of it is proper “sleep hygiene”—well-known advice like keeping the bedroom dark and cold, using your frigid cave-bed only for sleep and sex, and turning off anything that emits light a few hours before bed. ..."

Note that, as Walker explains in this interview with Joe Rogan, if you are not dreaming at night due to alcohol or drugs, your brain may start making you dream when you are awake, leading to hallucinations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig&feature=youtu.be...


Abusing sleeping pills is a great way to make it very difficult for people who actually need sleeping pills to not be able to get sleeping pills. This applies equally to many other medications too, including the freshly politically demonized effective pain relievers at the heart of the latest media driven moral panic. It only takes a few fools to ruin something for the responsible majority.


> demonized effective pain relievers

Opioids are widely prescribed for pain that they're not an effective treatment for.

This is cruel: the patient is still in pain, and now they have an addiction too.

The opioid crisis can be thought of as a mass failure in pain management.


How do you know? Do you work in a pain clinic? Are you a doctor who has worked with these patients for decades, or a researcher in the field? Or are you just repeating talking points from the latest media hysteria and politically driven moral panic?


i don't think this is true. healthcare has a litany of issues in america but i don't think it's common to pull controlled substances from the market because of black market abuse. am i wrong here?


Isn't that what happened to pseudoephedrine? Went from being OTC to very hard to get because of recreational use.


"hard to get" is overselling it a little. Maybe hard to get in very large quantities. Where I am, I can get up to 7.5 grams per month with zero issues. Not enough to make meth, enough for the maximum dose every day of every month.


I dont consider walking up to the counter and saying "I'd like to purchase pseudoephedrine" 'very hard.'


Part of the reason why Quaaludes were pulled was due to recreational abuse, but there might have been other reasons.


Much more dangerous than Ambien (or the other Z-drugs).

A dangerous/fatal overdose could be as low as 4-5x the therapeutic dose, especially if mixed with alcohol.

The Z-drugs, on the other hand, you can't really overdose on - at least not, as with 'Ludes', in the "stop breathing and die" sense.


I agree the z drugs are much safer, but there have been deaths by overdose of zopiclone.


That was pretty much the reason.




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