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Can Ambien Cause Racism? Roseanne Says ‘Yes,’ Ambien Maker Says ‘No’

Valerie Jarrett was an advisor to Barack Obama during his presidency. She was also the focus of an offensive tweet posted by Roseanne Barr, where the star of the highly acclaimed show Roseanne essentially called her a cross between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes. Within just hours and with a single sentence, the network canceled the show and called Roseanne’s tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.”Roseanne immediately removed the tweet and initially apologized on social media for what she called a “bad joke.” Later, she said that her actions were caused by the insomnia treatment drug, Ambien, tweeting, “It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien (sic) tweeting.”

French company Sanofi makes the drug, Ambien. They quickly responded by saying: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

Roseanne later backtracked and replied,

“I blame myself, not Ambien.”

The New Jersey Herald reports that ABC and their parent company, Walt Disney Co., will pick up a spinoff from the show in the fall, calling it The Connors. The new version of the show will not include Roseanne.

Additionally, celebrities have condemned her statements, her agent dropped her, and many networks running reruns of the old version of Roseanne have dropped the show from their lineups.

It was a swift, zero-tolerance response to racist and Islamophobic comments that many describe as the correct response. Some, however, say that it is possible that Ambien really was part of the equation, and if it was, it demonstrates the risks associated with taking the drug.

What do you think?


Ambien, also known as zolpidem, is a drug prescribed to treat insomnia in adults. However, its use is recommended to last no longer than 1–2 weeks. It is not designed to be a long-term fix for insomnia, and it comes with a number of caveats for recommended use. For example, if you do not have a minimum of 7–8 hours to dedicate to sleep, it is not recommended that you take the drug because you may be too groggy to function the next day.

Additionally, it is recommended that the drug only be taken right before bed as it can work very quickly. For example, you would not want to take a dose before driving home because you may not remain clearheaded for the duration of the drive.

Dosage is based on gender, co-occurring medical conditions, other medications, and age so it is not recommended to take someone else’s medication dose or to try to treat yourself using the drug.

Side Effects of Ambien

There have been a number of side effects reported by people using Ambien and reported by their friends and family members. The most concerning are hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness. While under the influence of Ambien, there have been reports of people driving, eating, and having sex voluntarily but with no recollection of their behaviors the next day. To others, the person may appear to be awake but oddly unable to interact and communicate as they normally would.

Is it possible to post on social media, write texts, or pen emails while in this state? Probably not. The act of reading someone’s post, thinking out a coherent response, typing out the words, and responding is potentially beyond the ability of someone who is essentially sleepwalking. There has been no anecdotal evidence or reports that this has ever happened, so it’s unlikely that it played a role in the actions of Roseanne Barr, someone who says that she is struggling with significant mental health issues.

Are You Struggling with Ambien or Other Prescription Medications?

It is not just Ambien that can cause problems for people who legitimately set out to take medication in order to deal with an honest medical problem. Medications prescribed to treat chronic pain, acute pain, and anxiety, as well as other drugs commonly prescribed for insomnia like Ativan or Xanax, are also addictive. Especially when they are taken too often, for too long, in larger doses than prescribed, or combined with other substances, including alcohol, prescription medications can become addictive or worsen an ongoing mental health issue that is contributing to insomnia and other chronic issues.

Are you living with a prescription drug abuse problem? Is it time to learn more about what you can do to improve your life and move forward into recovery?

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Sunrise House is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More