Tags: murder | ambien | side | effect | sleep | killing

Murder: Ambien Side Effect?

By    |   Wednesday, 07 May 2014 03:22 PM

Forensic psychiatrists who have studied several murder cases allegedly committed by individuals who were taking the sleep drug zolpidem (Ambien) are suggesting homicide may indeed be a rare – if extreme – side effect that may be attributed to the medication.
 
The notion of an "Ambien defense," examined in a MedPage Today report,  might seem outlandish. But psychiatrists who sought to unravel the role of zolpidem in several brutal murders committed against loved ones suggest people who take Ambien may get out of bed and do things while still effectively asleep, without remembering it the next day.
 
Numerous reports have described people fixing meals, having sex, and driving their cars in the middle of the night, with no later recollection. A few "Ambien zombies" have even killed people in car accidents. But in at least three documented cases, a person with no apparent motive or history of violence murdered a spouse or close friend after taking more than the recommended dose of zolpidem along with other psychotropic medications.
 
A forensic psychologist and two psychiatrists who were involved in two of these cases discussed their research at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New York this week.
 
The cases were reported in a 2012 paper by psychologist Cheryl Paradis, of Marymount Manhattan College and Kings County Hospital, and two psychiatrist colleagues – Lawrence Siegel, M.D., and Stuart Kleinman, M.D., of Columbia University. They had worked for the defense teams in those cases and also were the speakers at the APA panel this week. A third murder linked to zolpidem was committed in April 2013.
 
The two cases in the 2012 paper involved a 45-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman, both of whom had taken zolpidem pills and other prescription psychotropic drugs. Sometime in the night, these patients got up and killed their spouses. In the 2013 case, a young man in Littleton, Colo., who had taken five Ambien pills, beat his female housemate to death with a hammer.
 
Kleinman told APA attendees that amnesia does not absolve someone of a crime he or she has committed. The fact that a murderer later doesn't remember doing it does not mean that he or she wasn't fully aware of it.

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The notion of an 'Ambien defense' for people who commit murder while taking the sleep drug might seem outlandish. But forensic psychiatrists who have studied several murder cases are suggesting homicide may indeed be a rare - and extreme - side effect.
murder, ambien, side, effect, sleep, killing
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2014-22-07
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 03:22 PM
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