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Americans Are Getting Worse at Taking Sleeping Pills

Medicelike.bizSleep medication zolpidem
6.23.2017 | Brooke Lawman
Sleep medication zolpidem
Americans Are Getting Worse at Taking Sleeping Pills

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The number of emergency-room visits related to prescription sleep aids has doubled in recent years, according to a new study.

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The SAMHSA study authors were slightly less sympathetic, noting that misuse “may occur even though the medication guides for each zolpidem product … contain clear instructions to the patient to take the product exactly as prescribed.”

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We now know, in part, how the Trump-Russia scandal ends. As McKay Coppins and Rosie Gray pointed out on Tuesday, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. enthusiastically requested dirt on Hillary Clinton despite knowing it was coming from the Russian government has radically changed the argument being deployed by Trump’s defenders. Until this week, it was: “There is no collusion with the Russian government.” Now it is: “Collusion with a foreign government is fine. Everyone does it. Let’s talk about the Clinton campaign’s collusion with the government of Ukraine?”

Despite being the richest state in the country, by per-capita income, Connecticut’s budget is a mess. Its pensions are woefully under-funded. Its deficit is projected to surpass $2 billion, or 12 percent of its total annual tax revenue. Hartford is approaching bankruptcy. Conservatives look at Connecticut and see a liberal dystopia, where high taxes have ruined the economy. Liberals, on the other hand, see a capitalist horror show, where the rich dwell in gilded mansions, ensconced in sylvan culs-de-sac, while nearby towns face rising poverty and bankruptcy. Why is America’s richest state floundering?

2017 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Another answer is sleeping pills. And another answer, for tens of thousands of Americans, is too many sleeping pills, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

So, it’s the middle of the night. What do you do? Read the label, says the report. Or put the pills away, and just try and will yourself into believing you’re well-rested the next morning. Or take some solace in the fact that no one really knows how much sleep they get, anyway. Or maybe try the sheep thing again.

Trump’s defenders didn’t have to take this line. They could have argued that what Trump’s underlings did was terrible but that he knew nothing about it. (This defense saved Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra crisis—Trump’s attorneys have said he was unaware of the meeting but did not condemn Trump Jr. for taking it.) They could have argued that the meeting Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort held with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya would have been terrible had it led to meaningful cooperation between Moscow and the Trump campaign but that it did not.

The simplest explanation for the increase in sleeping pill-related hospitalization may be that the use of sleeping pills in general is also on the rise. The number of prescriptions for nonbenzodiazepine sedative hypnotics, a group of drugs to which zolpidem belongs, grew 30 times over between 1994 and 2007—that’s five times faster than the growth of insomnia diagnoses over the same period of time, and 21 times faster than the growth of patient complaints of sleeplessness. Somewhere between 50 and 70 million Americans are currently thought to suffer from sleep disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and around 4 percent of adults use prescription medication to get a good night’s rest.

“Patients don’t always remember to l their doctors that they’re on another medication, because they may be going to multiple doctors for different specialty care,” he explains.

Another issue is that patients don’t always realize that zolpidem shouldn’t be mixed with certain other drugs, says Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (Notably, zolpidem in combination with other drugs accounted for nearly 60 percent of all ER visits measured in the report).

For the past two decades, “girl power” has become a popular way of describing the success of girls in American culture. Widespread reports of “alpha girls”—girls who can do it all, find popularity, escape gender stereotypes, excel in school and walk away with the Homecoming Queen prize—have, according to all kinds of media reports, pioneered a gender takeover. In 2007, The Nation reported that girls can do everything boys can—and better. A New York Times story that same year documented what the author described as “ amazing girls ”—girls who are high-achieving and confident and engaged and “have grown up learning they can do anything a boy can do, which is anything they want to.” Business Week in 2003 described girls as “building a kind of scholastic Roman Empire alongside boys’ languishing Greece.”

It’s almost inevitable. Toss and turn for long enough, and eventually the middle-of-the-night bargaining will begin— If I fall asleep in the next 10 minutes, I’ll get five hours. Ten minutes pass. Fifteen minutes pass.

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Was Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Trump Jr., an agent of the Kremlin, or an opportunist shilling for a client? She herself has denied connections to the Russian government, and told NBC News that she neither had nor sought damaging information on Clinton. But in fact she need not be one or the other. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, everyone is potentially “hybrid”: both who they seem to be, and, at the same time, an instrument of the government.

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Women in particular were especially vulnerable, making up roughly two-thirds of all zolpidem-related mishaps. Although women are only slightly more likely to use prescription sleep aids (5 percent of women take them, as opposed to 3.1 percent of men), they’re also slower to metabolize them. Last year, prompted by reports of residual next-day drowsiness, the Food and Drug Administration told sleeping-pill manufacturers to halve the recommended dosage for female patients (it suggested, but did not require, that the companies lower the dosage for male patients as well).

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She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

As to why people overdose in the first place—well, according to the report, much of it has to do with frustration at the pills themselves:

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Even when taking the recommended dose of zolpidem, some patients find restful sleep difficult to achieve. When sleep does not come easily or is interrupted, patients may take more of their zolpidem medication than is prescribed.

The report observed a dramatic uptick in emergency-room visits related to zolpidem, the active ingredient in Ambien and other prescription sleep aids, from 2005 to 2010 (suicide attempts, bad reactions to the correct dosage of zolpidem, and cases where people had taken the drug without a prescription were not counted). Focusing on “overmedication,” or instances where the patient overdosed solely on zolpidem or used it in combination with alcohol or other drugs, the SAMHSA found that the number of ER visits nearly doubled, from roughly 22,000 in 2005 and 2006 to just over 42,000 in 2009 and 2010.

Updated on July 5 at 4:47 p.m. ET.

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It seems like a reaction to a fairly common grievance. On average, sleeping pills will only add around 11 minutes of sleep time, according to a 2007 study from the National Institutes of Health, and will cause the user to drift off just 13 minutes sooner after getting into bed. As promised, they’re likely to help you go to sleep and stay asleep, but barely.

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Sleep medication zolpidem