Most of us know John Stamos from his Full House days (not all of us may want to admit that, though). Full House is currently being revived by Netflix, set to launch in the coming weeks. But that’s not the only reason Stamos is making news lately. Yesterday morning on the Howard Stern Show, Stamos copped to being addicted to Ambien; and now the entire Internet is raging over the pharmaceutical magic slumber pill. Stamos in fact placed quitting Ambien higher than kicking alcohol while being interviewed. Bold words, of course, and a major shake up job to the pharmaceutical company who has long attempted to ignore claims of Zolpidem (that’s the real name, Ambien is just the pretty brand name) addiction. It IS addictive. And the makers of it know this, but nobody wants to say it out loud due to the incredible popularity of the drug.
“I was on you know, some medications for anti-depressants and that damn Ambien. I’m so happy to be off that…” he told Stern. “And that was the hardest thing to kick by the way. Booze and whatever, that happened, but the Ambien was tough.” He also mentioned that the meds were messing with his memory.
The pitch by pharma is that it is “psychologically addictive” as opposed to “physically addictive,” but anecdotal evidence hasn’t shown that to be 100 percent truth. The other pitch is that Ambien is really a short-term solution to help solve a long-term dilemma: insomnia. Let’s break right there though and mildly digress. How many people do you know who have battled insomnia and taken Ambien for a 12 week period, solved their insomnia, and then ceased taking the Ambien? I don’t know any. I’m not a Doctor or a researcher of course, but that doesn’t matter because all too often our own intuition is dismissed much too prematurely. My point in saying this is that the pharmaceutical makers distributing Zolpidem understand what’s really happening: they are developing long-term, chronic customers both physically and psychologically reliant on the medication. Stamos, he is a drop in the proverbial bucket of distraughtly addicted customers who have in no way, shape or form come close to resolving or combatting their insomnia.
But Stamos is just starting a conversation all of us should have been having for years. Ambien has always been bad news. People have long reported sleep walking induced car driving, cooking, having sex, and many other absurdities. Using your own common sense, does that sound like a healthy sleeping brain function? Maybe for Chef Boyardee, but not for you. Ambien is dangerous. But the pitch is without fail because here’s the thing: we’ve all battled insomnia at some point in our lives. Insomnia overtakes some of us for no reason, others of us because a parent died, or maybe we had to put the family pet to sleep. Insomnia makes a desperate person out of the most educated and refined people. And due to that, people will try anything. And “anything” usually ends up as Ambien.
Our Doctors tell us it is a short-term solution which isn’t addictive. That’s egregious, disturbing and almost criminal. The very Doctors we rely on for our health are screwing us by hooking us on pharma’s products. I doubt Stamos found Ambien at the bottom of his magical beanstalk. He was prescribed the medication. He had conversations with Doctors. He ended up becoming addicted to it and being left to pick up the pieces for himself. Stamos, in this way, is all of us. Victims of a pharmaceutical industry who plays to our fears, leverages our internal chemistry and then fleeces us for as long as we decide that being fleeced financially is worse than withdrawal.
Maybe this story will serve as an eye-opening event for us, the consumers, and the victims.
A photo posted by John Stamos (@johnstamos) on