(NBC) – Sleep aid has been linked to strange side effects, including impaired driving, but this may the first time it’s blamed for offensive use of social media.
The “Ambien defense” has been used by people trying to excuse themselves for violent crime, for driving under the influence and even for sexual assault. Actress Roseanne Barr took it into a whole new territory on Wednesday when she used the sleeping aid as an excuse for a racist tweet that got her popular ABC television show canceled.
Roseanne’s Ambien defense got immediate blowback from Sanofi, which makes Ambien. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the company tweeted from its official account.
People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
Doctors active on social media weighed in, too.
“Dear @therealroseanne Ambien does not make you racist, being racist makes you racist,” tweeted Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an outspoken obstetrician/gynecologist who practices at the San Francisco Medical Center.
Dear @therealroseanne Ambien does not make you racist, being racist makes you racist
To be fair, Ambien might disinhibit, letting the unspoken racism out to be expressed publicly.
“To be fair, Ambien might disinhibit, letting the unspoken racism out to be expressed publicly,” answered Dr. David Gorski, a surgeon at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
I did a quick literature search on Ambien-induced racism
Sleep specialists agree.
“Taking Ambien doesn’t take care of sleep deprivation. So the combination of sleep deprivation and medication side effects might result in disinhibited or bizarre behavior,” said Azizi Seixas, who studies sleep behavior at New York University.
“Ambien increases the appetite to sleep, but doesn’t increase the quality of your sleep,” Seixas added.