Zolpidem tartrate, also sold under the brand names Ambien, Edluar and Stilnox, belongs to a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep. It is widely prescribed to people suffering from insomnia.
Behavioral sleep disorders have been associated with this medication when used in combination with other medications or alcohol, or when it hasn’t been taken as prescribed. These “Ambien Zombie” side effects include sleepwalking, sleep eating, sleep sex and sleep driving. Though rare, these side effects have also occurred when zolpidem was taken appropriately and without the influence of other agents or alcohol.
A determination about whether or not zolpidem toxicity is a legitimate defense for a particular charge requires a careful and comprehensive expert forensic analysis of the case files and medical record. It is also dependent upon utilizing the appropriate pharmacokinetic profile (absorption, distribution and metabolism) of the drug at the time of the incident.
Potential forensic implications:
- motor vehicle accidents
- sexual assault
- sleep-related violence