Doctors warn of combination of sleep-aid with alcohol and other drugs

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 7:41 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS - Former Saints player Darren Sharper is charged with drugging and raping two women in Los Angeles.

Police say he allegedly combined the sleep aid Ambien, with alcohol and morphine. Experts say there is danger of combining these drugs and have advice for potential victims.

For years we heard about the date rape drug Rohypnol or Roofies, slipped in alcohol. But its makers later gave would-be victims a warning sign.

"So what the company did is compound the drug with a dye so that if it's placed in dark alcoholic drinks, the drink becomes cloudy. And if it's placed in clear alcoholic drinks, it turns a particular color, usually blue," said LSU Health Sciences Center Pharmacologist Dr. Peter Winsauer.

Police say the prescription sleep aid Ambien is now being used.

"They tend to be very safe on their own, but as soon as you begin to combine those drugs, combine those drugs with other drugs that work at the same receptor site, or have a similar mechanism of action, they become extraordinarily dangerous. You're going to get super additive effects, not just additive effects. In other words, one and one isn't two, but one and one is going to be four or five," explained Dr. Winsauer.

He says that combining Ambien with alcohol and morphine can have an anesthesia-like effect or at worst be lethal.

"Probably this combination of drugs will produce more respiratory depression than the opioids or comparable. They'll fall asleep, stop breathing and not wake up," Said Dr. Winsauer.

"There is a window when the drug is starting to take effect where you're conscious of its effects, drowsiness, sedation and slurring of your speech. If that happens to you, or one of your friends, tell someone you trust immediately, because after that, the sedation will progress and there's nothing you can do about it.

The drugs also cause amnesia while they are in your system.

"That's exactly what the drug does. By slowing down the brain, you inhibit the brain's ability to form memories. And because they can't form those memories, the next day they don't have those memories," he said.

Police say you should never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from someone you don't know.

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