Moms, Ambien, Xanax & Stress


15,473,00. That's how many women sought out prescription sleep drugs. Just last year. That's just the women, not the men. This number doesn't include women who were prescribed anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds. Also, that 15 million figure does not include women who self-medicate and mood-manage with alcohol. These stats come from IMS Health, a health care consulting firm in Connecticut. This is also published in today's New York Times.

What's up with this? Is it worry? Hyper-vigiliance? Wide awake at 3 am worrying about getting back to sleep adds to even more stress. Which is it? Or is it healthy sleep detoured since sleepless pregnant nights, infant feedings and toddler nighttime interruptions? Are women supposed to always be "on" until the birds are out of the nest? Is it maternal instinct, hormonal or a by-product of an anxiety-filled, American lifestyle? Is it a combination?

I don't know the cause but I see the effects. My firm has seen an explosion of "mommy-DUI's" and "mommy-addictions" over the past 6-8 years. Too many of us don't have the release valve during the day to give us peace of mind. Literally peacefulness when it comes time to pull our brain blinds and find REM sleep.

America is a soundbite, drive-thru, instant fix nation. We are too quick to look for answers from websites and magazines. Both of which are populated by Madison Avenue generated prescription drug advertising. The quick fix is whatever we just heard, read, or what our friend does.

That quick fix quickly leads to habit which leads to addiction. Xanax and Ambien are highly addictive and habit-forming drugs. Factor in some wine or vodka and I've got myself a future client. You wouldn't believe the number of Ambien-DUI cases I've seen where my client pops an Ambien before driving home so she gets a head start on falling asleep. Xanax in the purse is so common that most younger male police officers expect to find it when they search a 45 year old woman's purse after a DUI traffic stop.

I am not a sleep deprivation expert by any stretch. I am sure there are legitimate medical causes that require prescription drug management. However, I firmly these drugs are used recreationally and recklessly. They are joked about at cocktail parties. They are passed around like sticks of gum. There is a total lack of patient education based upon my office interviews when I talk to these moms following an arrest.

I may be wrong but mommy's need to be more selfish with their personal time. They need to find a daily outlet that gets them physically fatigued and emotionally balanced with endorphines. Establishing a healthy fellowship with other moms (tennis, yoga, reading club, walking, meeting for coffee) would likely go a long way to getting moms off meds. Being more organized and prioritizing their day as opposed to putting out fires would likely get rid of much clutter in the mind at night.

Maybe men can shut things out mentally and women can't. Maybe men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Who knows.

This is my only blog posting that permits comments. Feel free to chime in. . .