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Former NFL Player’s Crimes Highlight Dangers of Sleep Drugs

Darren Sharper, a former NFL player, started taking Ambien in 2012 after retiring from the game to treat his ongoing insomnia.  He became a frequent user, with records indicating that he took 70 pills in 65 days through mid-January of 2014.  Besides his own dependence problem, Sharper also allegedly used the drug to rape women by placing it in their drinks.  In January of this year, he was arrested by Los Angeles police and he has since been indicted on two more counts of rape in Arizona and is the subject of investigations in three other states as well.

Sharper Representative of Larger Problem in NFL Players

In some ways, Sharper is one of  many NFL players who have suffered a head injury during their career and later came to rely on Ambien to get to sleep.  Furthermore, Sharper isn’t unique in the accusations that he potentially used the drug to render women unconscious in order to rape them.  For example, police say that Ambien has become the new date-rape drug, replacing “roofies”, largely because it is easy to dispense into a drink and is largely undetectable in the blood or urine of a victim just one or two days after the incident.  Ambien is the best-selling prescription drugs on the market in the U.S., but the Merck, the maker of the drug has butted heads with the FDA in the past over its safety.  Primarily, experts have cited concerns over its addictive qualities, although it should only be used for a short period of time to treat insomnia (7-10 days typically).  It has also been associated with a host of side effects, including bizarre ones such as nighttime eating while asleep and mental, mood and behavioral changes.

Sharper Promoted Women’s Safety, Remains in Custody for Alleged Rapes

Sadly, Sharper was a regular promoter of women’s safety, but the case against him appears damning.  Investigators say that of all the women that have come forward against Sharper, their stories are extremely similar and reveal an undeniable pattern, even if their recollection is somewhat blurry from the amnesia-like effects of Ambien.  Sharper is the subject of investigation in Louisiana, Nevada and Florida and has been charged in Arizona and California, where prosecutors say that they have witnesses to bolster the victims’ claims.  He is currently in jail and faces up to 30 years in prison in California, which will try its case before Arizona.

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