Nov 30, 2009

Trouble Sleeping?



Ironically, I couldn’t go to bed until I bitched about something for a second. So here it is…

FLAME ON

I am constantly amused by the advertisements that the health industry puts out these days. It’s easy to drone out during commercials and completely ignore their messages, and I do it 99% of the time. Last night, in between walking from letting my dog out to my office, that 1% kicked in, and I walked over to the TV to catch the rest of the commercial. I heard a list of horrible side effects, and wanted to catch the name of the latest and greatest over-the-counter drug that was going to help me do something better while making the other things going on in my life 10x worse. This particular commercial happened to be promoting a drug called AmBien, or Zolpidem Tartrate for all you science dorks out there.

I went to my room and looked up this drug. It is basically intended to help you sleep. According to AmBien’s website,

AMBIEN CR is indicated to help you fall asleep and/or stay asleep. AMBIEN is indicated for short-term treatment to help you fall asleep.”

Hmm, sounds like a good deal. I take the pill. I sleep better. But let’s take a little look at the side effects, which are also posted on their website, and relayed verbatim from the commercial:

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

AMBIEN and AMBIEN CR are treatment options you and your doctor can consider along with lifestyle changes. When taking either of them, don’t drive or operate machinery. Plan to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active. Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with memory loss for the event, as well as abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations may occur. Don’t take it with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors. In patients with depression, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur. If you experience any of these behaviors contact your doctor immediately. Allergic reactions such as shortness of breath, swelling of your tongue or throat, may occur and in rare cases may be fatal. If you have an allergic reaction while using AMBIEN or AMBIEN CR, contact your doctor immediately. Side effects of AMBIEN CR may include next-day drowsiness, dizziness and headache. There is a low occurrence of side effects associated with the short-term use of AMBIEN. The most commonly observed side effects in controlled clinical trials were drowsiness, dizziness, and diarrhea. AMBIEN is taken for 7 to 10 days –or longer as advised by your provider. AMBIEN CR can be taken as long as your doctor recommends. AMBIEN and AMBIEN CR have some risk of dependency. They are non-narcotic.

It is easy to skim through the wall of text on their website and not pay attention to anything. It’s even easier to ignore the description of the side effects when you’re watching the TV ad because you are distracted by the old couple playing in the tire swing montage while sucking on ice cream cones. It is followed by the dude in the phone booth filled up with $100 bills that he is frantically trying to stuff in his pants while furiously popping the next best sleep aide pill. But I’m going to take the time to create a list of the side effects, and let you read through them in an easier manner.

So here we go.

PROs:

Helps you fall asleep and/or stay asleep.

CONs:

  • Don’t drive or operate machinery
  • Plan to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active
  • Sleepwalking
  • Avoid eating or driving while not fully awake
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Don’t take it with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors
  • In patients with depression, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur.
  • SUICIDE?!?!
  • [If you experience any of these behaviors contact your doctor immediately.] Ha. Right.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of your tongue or throat
  • In rare cases may be fatal
  • FATAL?!?!
  • Side effects of AMBIEN CR may include next-day drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • [There is a low occurrence of side effects associated with the short-term use of AMBIEN.] Phew, and I was worried about putting a shotgun in my mouth for a second.
  • The most commonly observed side effects in controlled clinical trials were drowsiness, dizziness, and diarrhea.
  • DIARRHEA?!?! Noooooooooooooooooo!
  • AMBIEN and AMBIEN CR have some risk of dependency.
  • [They are non-narcotic.] Should this go in the PROs? Nah, I’ll leave it here.

I’ll cut straight to the cheese on this one. If you take this pill, there is a possibility that you will kill yourself, die, or have a massive diarrhea explosion. I’m not one of those people that stand outside the pharmacy with a pitchfork and burning torch and call for the heads of anyone that bottles these pills up, but at some point, you just have to ask yourself how fucking stupid these ads are. I wouldn’t make a big deal about it if it was just one commercial and I never saw it again. But this kind of crap is on the TV everyday, and has been, for years. To be fair and honest, they should display the side effects in the commercial as well. [WARNING: VIVID IMAGARY INCOMING!!!!!!] Instead of showing Joe Blow playing with his kids and swinging around the merry-go-round with smiles from ear to ear, they should show Joe Blow crouched over in the fetal position in the bathtub spraying fecal matter all over himself uncontrollably and cursing himself for not being able to just pass out and sleep through the entire fiasco because the sleeping pill he took last night gave him a full eight hours of rest.

Fuck me. On that note, I'm going to bed.

FLAME OFF