Common Sleep Aid Dangerous Due to Wide Misuse

Rob Wipond
4
134

Zolpidem, the active ingredient in common sleep aids like Ambien, Intermezzo and various generics, accounts for more emergency hospital visits than any other psychoactive drug, according to a study by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) published in its QuarterWatch newsletter. And the reason, ISMP found, is widespread improper use patterns.

“When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed what psychiatric medications were most frequently identified as the reason for emergency department visits, zolpidem ranked first with an estimated 10,212 annual visits, 25% of which required hospital admission,” reported ISMP. “In addition, over the 12 months ending with 2014 Q2 we identified 1,030 serious adverse event cases in which zolpidem was the primary or secondary suspect drug.”

The key problem, QuarterWatch wrote, “is a broad pattern of unsafe use that was not in accord with FDA and manufacturer recommendations.” Using data from the US federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, they found that most zolpidem use “was not in accord with safety recommendations.”

While zolpidem is recommended for short-term use of about a month, 68% of users were using the drug much more regularly over longer time periods. Nearly a quarter of users were also simultaneously taking the sleep aid with other psychoactive drugs targeting the same neuroreceptors.

QuarterWatch May 2015 (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) (Full text)

4 COMMENTS

  1. My dr in Victoria, BC prescribed a ‘Z’ sleep aid for over 2 years. I had NO idea that this wasn’t okay. The only reason I stopped is because I was worried about the dependency. Not once did any doctor or pharmacy say anything to me about how I was misusing that prescription. In BC all prescriptions are tracked – the pharmacy knew.

    • Taken in large quantities at one time these drugs can produce a kind of hypnotic, intoxicating effect. If they aren’t safe in small doses what are people doing to themselves by taking large doses in order to get “high”? These drugs ought to be banned by the FDA but the FDA is no friend of the American people, it’s only the friend of the large drug companies.

  2. “While zolpidem is recommended for short-term use of about a month, 68% of users were using the drug much more regularly over longer time periods. Nearly a quarter of users were also simultaneously taking the sleep aid with other psychoactive drugs targeting the same neuroreceptors.”

    And of course it’s the dumb druggie patients and not the doctors who prescribe these drugs that are at fault right? I love the victim blaming…

    Btw, isn’t the fact that sleep pills are dangerous drugs with high addictive potential common knowledge since I can’t even remember how long? Why do we treat this like it was news?

LEAVE A REPLY