Dr. Mehmet Oz revealed the potentially life-threatening side effects of the sleeping pill Ambien on the July 16 episode of the Dr. Oz Show.
Ambien is the No. 1 prescription sleeping pill in the United States. Unfortunately, Dr. Oz said there has been a rash of disturbing reports about some bizarre side effects of Ambien, especially among women.
His guest was Lindsey Schweigert, who had used Ambien for 10 years without incident. That all changed in March 2011, when she took the popular sleeping pill before going to bed and woke up hours later in a police car.
Apparently Lindsey had hit another car while driving under the influence of Ambien in the middle of the night. Shockingly, she had no recollection of getting into her car or driving at all.
Bizarre Incidents Spawned 'Ambien Defense'
At trial, prosecutors originally wanted to put Schweigert in jail for six months for DWI (driving while intoxicated), but she later plead guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving after her lawyer successfully argued that Schweigert did not intentionally commit her crime, TheFix reported.
Lindey's attorney cited a warning on the sleeping pill's label that read: “After taking Ambien, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night."
Ambien Responsible for Shocking 200% Spike in ER Visits
Sadly, there have been many other such incidents of people engaging in bizarre, dangerous behavior, reportedly while under the influence of Ambien. They have have popularized what is now known as the "Ambien defense."
"This could happen to you," said Dr. Oz. "If you think it's far-fetched, you could be dead-wrong. And I mean dead. Literally."
Ironically, Ambien was hailed as a "miracle sleeping pill" when it first hit the market years ago because of its alleged lack of side effects. Since then, it has been responsible for a 200 percent spike in emergency-room visits.
Sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus told Dr. Oz women are more vulnerable than men to falling into a "zombie-like" state on Ambien because of their hormones. He said Ambien can be safe if taken as directed, but you shouldn't take it for more than three or four weeks.