A-list blog: The curse of Ambien | VailDaily.com

A-list blog: The curse of Ambien

Alex Miller

Maybe every generation of drivers says this, but does it seem like the skill set of people behind the wheels has diminished somewhat?

At first, I thought maybe it had to do with things like teaching “intelligent design” in schools (or even thinking about it) and the mass-hysteria muck-up that put the Boy Doofus back in the White House. But then my old friend the New York Times set me straight.

It’s Ambien. Yes, according to a story in the March 8 edition, the powerful sleeping pill is the 10th-most common drug found in the bloodstreams of those arrested for driving under the influence.

“Have you been drinking, sir?”

“No officer! But I did take two Ambien.”

“Step out of the car, please.”

I’ve taken Ambien myself, reluctantly. Apparently, I’m not alone: 26.5 million prescriptions for the drug were filled in the past year.

Holy cow! That’s a lot of sleepless people!

Insomnia is a curse I live with, and during particularly stressful times, there can be nights where I don’t sleep at all. And while I like the fact that the pill can give me relief, I have found that addiction to the drug is almost instantaneous. As soon as you start relying on its womb-like guidance into the land of Nod, you’re reluctant to stop using it for fear you just can’t fall sleep without it.

I have no more of these things and haven’t asked my doctor for a refill. I simply have to learn to live without them, and have been doing things like nighttime yoga tapes, getting in more exercise during the day and sticking to a set schedule. So now, I go from about 10 to 4, at which point I get up and work on my creative writing.

I’m a certified early bird, and screw Ambien. I’ve gotten a lot further on my new stage play without it. But not everyone is moving away from it. I have a friend who’s struggled with different drug addictions over the years, and when I told him about my concerns regarding Ambien, he asked when I took them and how many. I told him one, at bedtime, as the doctor told me to do.

He laughed, then told me how he liked to take them in larger quantities in waking hours to sort of float in and out of consciousness like the creepy butterly in those commercials from “Lunestra,” Ambien’s new competition.

Taking the pills like that had thankfully never occurred to me, but if I’m to believe this Times story, a lot of people are taking Ambien during “normal waking hours” and then driving around. That’s frightening, since my own experience suggested to me that, after taking a single Ambien, I wasn’t qualified to operate the toaster.

But it’s the human way, I suppose. Give us something mind-altering and we’ll find a way to abuse it. But beware, Ambien drivers, you’re under the influence on these things, and I don’t want to share the road with you …

Vail, Colorado

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