A Closer Look at Roseanne Barr’s “Ambien Defense” on Twitter

Business, Lifestyle, Media, Politics
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It has been a pretty wild week for Roseanne Barr’s Twitter account.

Click2Houston, the NBC affiliate, painted a timeline of the incredible fall of Roseanne Barr, noting: “At the same time, one of Barr’s other tweets — the racist one equating Jarrett to an ape — was catching fire from outraged Twitter users.”

The article goes on to say that network executives woke up to these horrible exchanges on social media. Here’s a few important ones in the timeline of Tweets:

In these exchanges Roseanne’s remarks about Ambient — “I was Ambien tweeting” and “I think Joe Rogan is right about Ambien” … “I’ve done weird stuff on Ambien.”

This caught the attention of Sanofi US, the makers of Ambien, which responded to the Barr claims:

“People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that Ambien can make a person a racist.  However, when one looks at the side-effects of this medication used to assist in sleeping, one can see where one might make the case that the drug can contribute to a person behaving in an uninhibited way.  In other words, the medication will not make someone racist, but it might make a person become loose lipped.  Therefore a racist under the influence of it is more likely to verbalize it.

Popular Science notes that the drug can have several surprising side effects.

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Double vision
  • Trouble breathing
  • Slowed response times
  • Impaired judgment
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep-driving, -walking, -eating, -talking, and having sex while asleep

Wow, what a list! With a closer look one can argue that difficulty concentrating, disorientation, and confusion, might lead to the issues Roseanne Barr suffered from when she went on her racist rampage online.

An even closer look one finds some even more applicable side effects. It is very difficult to dismiss the side effects of aggression and impaired judgement when it comes to Roseane Barr’s nefarious tweeting.  The article goes on to say “Though you may find yourself rambling on and on to your friends due to lowered inhibitions and lack of judgement, Ambien has not been known to cause hateful feelings toward any particular people. If you’re experiencing thoughts like this, please see a therapist.”  If you have those hateful feelings, which one can definitely argue is the case with Barr, a person is likely to express them under the influence of this powerful drug.

So is this Tweet storm the responsibility of Ambien?  Of course not, one of the problems of our culture today is the tendency to claim victim-hood.  In fact, Barr has already taken ownership. However, the makers of Ambien might want to be careful it its proclamation that it could not have played any role in Barr’s poor judgement.


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