Olympic medallist Grant Hackett’s early morning antics at a Melbourne hotel are typical of people who have taken the notorious Stilnox sleeping pills.
Hackett was photographed at the Crown Casino hotel on Saturday night while looking for his son, semi-dressed and apparently incoherent.
His son was found by hotel security and Hackett has flown to the US.
According to his coach he is there for Stilnox rehab, but Hackett told reporters on Wednesday he was there for a break.
Stilnox is a quick-acting drug for insomniacs. Its package insert warns about the danger of unusual and potentially dangerous and bizarre behaviour.
It should never be taken for more than four weeks and should definitely not be taken with alcohol.
People who take Stilnox usually feel the effects in 15 to 30 minutes. Its main use is to help a patient with insomnia fall asleep and stay asleep.
“It is not a medicine to play around with,” says pharmacist Sarah Spagnardi, who heads a free phone service provided by NPS MedicineWise.
Stilnox is a branded prescription drug, but it is also sold as a zolpidem and several other brand names.
The drug has significant hypnotic effects and some users have reported unexplained sleepwalking, sleep driving, binge eating while asleep and performing other tasks while sleeping.
In Australia, Stilnox packs carry the following alert: “Warning: … may be associated with unusual and potentially dangerous behaviours whilst apparently asleep. These have included sleep walking, driving motor vehicles and other bizarre behaviours … You must not drink alcohol …”
* Call NPS Medicines Line 1300 633 424 for more information.