‘The Devil’s Aspirin’ – Why Do So Many Blame Ambien?

August 18, 2018

Elon Musk, Roseanne Barr, Tiger Woods and others have all claimed the sedative was at fault for their strange behavior.

Elon Musk’s erratic public declarations are reportedly worrying Tesla board members, and a main concern for executives is a sedative Musk says he has been using: Ambien.

“It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” Musk told the New York Times in an interview published on Thursday, which came after the Tesla founder claimed on Twitter that he was considering taking the company private.

The tweet sparked a furore among both markets and media, while lawyers warned he could have broken a law prohibiting publicly traded companies from announcing plans to buy or sell securities.

If Ambien is to blame, Musk would not be the only celebrity to act strangely under the influence of the sedative, or to claim that acting strangely was the fault of the sedative.

In May Roseanne Barr memorably blamed Ambien for a series of racist tweets which led to her ABC sitcom being cancelled.

“It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting,” was Barr’s defense for a message comparing former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape. She also accused George Soros of being “a nazi”.

The drug manufacturer Sanofi, which makes Ambien, issued a statement after Barr’s outburst saying “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication”.

Ambien, commonly prescribed for insomnia, was found in Tiger Woods’ system when he was arrested for a DUI in 2017. Police found Woods’ car parked on the side of the road with the engine running, the brake lights on and a right turn signal blinking. Woods said prescription medication was to blame.

Charlie Sheen said Ambien was responsible for him allegedly trashing his New York City hotel room in 2010. The New York Post reported that “tables and chairs had been thrown around the room and a chandelier was also damaged”. In 2011 Sheen explained his behavior to the news show 20/20:

“Ambien, the devil’s aspirin! I think that led to that thing in New York. That was the one thing in the mix that was not part of my normal blend.”

Appearing on the Late Show in 2017, Sean Penn pre-emptively blamed Ambien for any potentially disruptive behavior.

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