Published On: Wed, May 1st, 2013

Ambien and other sleep aids seen in huge increase in ER visits: SAMHSA

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows an alarming rise in emergency room visits due to adverse reactions from sleep aid medications containing the active ingredient, zolpidem.

Ambien Image/DEA


Zolpidem, the active ingredient in sleeping aids like Ambien, Ambien CR, Eldular and Zolpimist, was linked to 19,487 visits in 2010, up from 6,111 visits in 2005, or a 220 percent increase.

Seven out of 10 emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem were seen in patients 45 year of age or older.

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“Although short-term sleeping medications can help patients, it is exceedingly important that they be carefully used and monitored,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in a press release today. “Physicians and patients need to be aware of the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication, and work closely together to prevent or quickly address any problems that may arise.”

In 2010 there were a total of 4,916,328  drug-related visits to emergency departments throughout the nation, making insomnia drugs a small portion of the total; however, the dramatic increase is concerning.

In January this year, the FDA said current recommended doses of Ambien and similar drugs should be cut in half for women and that the labeling should recommend doctors consider a lower dose for men.

SAMHSA says adverse reactions associated with the medication include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleep-walking and drowsiness while driving. When zolpidem is combined with other substances, the sedative effects of the drug can be dangerously enhanced. This is especially true when zolpidem is combined with certain anti-anxiety medications and narcotic pain relievers which depress the central nervous system. The report finds that in 2010 half of all emergency department visits related to zolpidem involved its use with other drugs. In 37 percent of all emergency department visits involving zolpidem it was used in combination with drugs that depress the central nervous system.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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