As she prepares for the London Olympics, Dara Torres recently confessed to using Ambien. The drug is generally prescribed to treat insomnia but has become a popular choice in the sports world. Torres is not the only athlete who has turned to Ambien to calm her nerves before an event, and my conversations with other coaches reveal the growing popularity of this medication.
Torres, who plans on competing in the 2012 Olympic Games at the age of 45, admits to using Ambien to help her sleep before an event. Dara Torres claims that she is not "doing it all the time" and points out that other athletes use the medication before events. Torres describes her use of the drug as selective instead of an ongoing dependence.
Ambien and Athletes
Ambien, also known as Zolpidem, is considered a hypnotic that helps with sleep issues. Although insomnia is the most commonly cited problem, Ambien has been used for other disorders. The drug is intended for short term use and not for extended periods of time. Among athletes, Ambien has become a popular drug to help them calm their nerves. Torres admits it helps her sleep before an event, and she is not the only person who benefits from it. Sleeping pills have become an easy and dangerous alternative for athletes who need their rest.
Tiger Woods has been linked to Ambien and allegedly asked his mistress to supply more drugs for him. Olympic skater Johnny Weir has referred to Ambien as his "best friend." Hockey player Derek Boogaard frequently used Ambien throughout his career. The prescription drug is readily available for athletes searching for a quick solution.
Although many athletes have exalted the benefits of Ambien, the drug comes with a long list of side effects and the potential for addiction. Symptoms range from minor headaches to joint pain. Ambien has also been linked to severe sleepwalking incidents that include driving, eating and working while under the influence of the drug. Many coaches have pointed out that the drug is becoming more popular among athletes, but its risks are being ignored.
More from this contributor:
Lana has a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry. She is an avid athlete, youth coach and follows several sports. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.