SSRI Stories Note: The Physicians Desk Reference states that antidepressants can cause a craving for alcohol and can cause alcohol abuse. Also, the liver cannot metabolize the antidepressant and the alcohol simultaneously, thus leading to higher levels of both alcohol and the antidepressant in the human body.
Panel upholds another Ambien-related conviction
By: David Sherfinski 11/28/10 9:05 PM
Sharon Breeden Wood
A judicial appeals panel upheld the conviction of a Virginia woman on child endangerment charges in the second case this month involving the prescription sleep aid Ambien.
Sharon Breeden Wood of Windsor Farms was arrested in September 2008 in Henrico County after a witness saw her "hunched over and swaying back and forth" in her parked car while her two children, ages 2 and 5, sat in the back seat, according to court documents.
Wood's blood alcohol content was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit in Virginia. Her blood also tested positive for Ambien in the amount consistent with the ingestion of one tablet, court documents show. Wood told Henrico police Officer Lawrence Peranski she had also taken the antidepressant drug Paxil and had a glass of wine at lunch.
Wood was convicted of two counts of felony child endangerment. She appealed the conviction, arguing that there was no evidence beyond her intoxication to show criminal negligence, pointing out that she committed no other traffic violations while in the parking lot.
"In short, she reasons that without more than intoxication, her conduct did not constitute felony child neglect," according to court documents.
But Court of Appeals Judge Robert P. Frank's opinion said otherwise.
"Unlike other medications, drowsiness is not a side effect of Ambien; it is the purpose of taking the medication," Frank wrote. "It defies human experience that one who takes a sleeping pill would not know what effects that medication would have on their ability to drive. One need not read the printed warnings to know the effects of Ambien."
Wood's case was the second in Virginia this month involving Ambien.
In a case unrelated to Wood's, an appeals panel ruled in early November that Joshua K. Shortt of Loudoun County was liable for a traffic accident despite Shortt's claim that he was "sleep driving" while under the influence of Ambien.