Doctor Gives Tips On Taking Sleep Medications - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/10/06-Tyler

Doctor Gives Tips On Taking Sleep Medications

Ambien is one of the top ten substances found in the bloodstream of impaired drivers. In East Texas, the Department of Public Safety says driving under the influence of sleep medications is a problem. Those taking them innocently believe the effects of the drug have worn off.

Ambien is one of the most popular sleep medications. Reports show last year, more than 26-million prescriptions were written in the United States. Sleep specialist for ETMC, Doctor Raymond Perkins says the drug is both safe and effective, if you use it properly.

"Ambien is very rapid in its onset and a lot of people don't realize that," said Doctor Perkins. "The way you should always take these medications is when you're ready to go to bed. You shouldn't take these medications and expect to be able do anything else." Like get in your car and drive. DPS says the deadliest crash is caused by an intoxicated driver, which includes those taking a prescription drug. That's because medications like Ambien will affect someone's driving the same way alcohol does.

"Such as weaving in their lanes, swerving from one side of the road to another," said Trooper Jean Dark, Department of Public Safety. "They don't have the ability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time and driving is a divided attention task." Doctor Perkins says the drug affects everyone differently, but to make sure it's fully out of your system, give it at least eight hours.

"People have misconceptions that sleeping pills make you sleep,and if you're not asleep then it's not working, which is not the case." Doctors say Ambien has the same effect as other medications or tranquilizers, so you must take proper precautions. They also say if you've just started using Ambien, it's best to try it on a weekend or a day you have time to see how the drug will affect you. That's because Ambien can create short term memory loss and cause you to do things you would not normally do.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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