I’ve seen a disgusting amount of ignorance and flat-out lies being portrayed as fact regarding the drugs Adderall and Temazepam, two medications that George Zimmerman was apparently prescribed according to some news reports.
Some news outlets and blogs have irresponsibly chosen to play up the extremely remote possible side effects of both drugs, and assert that the made George Zimmerman both paranoid and extremely aggressive.
Proponents of this story have created a Jekyll and Hyde pharmaceutical fallacy, where these drugs turned a concerned citizen and neighborhood watch captain into a bloodthirsty monster little different than Jason Voorhees, on a single-minded mission to stalk and kill poor, innocent Trayvon Martin.
The fantasy falls apart very quickly, however, to even a layperson’s limited pharmaceutical knowledge.
Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) is a drug prescribed primarily for ADD/ADHD, and is also prescribed to treat narcolepsy. Prescribed to hundreds of thousands of elementary school children, it and similar formulations (like Ritalin) come in both regular and extended release versions.
An interesting fact about Adderall is that it works for only a limited period of time before wearing off, typically 4-6 hours. Because it is an amphetamine and can contribute to difficulty sleeping, it is typically prescribed by doctors to be taken in the morning, and no more than six hours before bedtime.
Despite the intention misrepresentations that Adderall all but causes raging psychosis, the possibility of increased aggression is remote and unlikely side effect, not even mentioned on some drug information web sites because of its infrequency.
When these known facts are compiled, it is very unlikely that Adderall would have triggered aggression in George Zimmerman at any point during his day. When that is combined with the knowledge that a typical morning dosage of the drug would have entirely worn off by the early evening when the incident occurred, it is improbable that Adderall had any effect on Zimmerman at all.
The other prescription allegedly taken by George Zimmerman is a sleep-aide called Temazepam, typically prescribed to treat insomnia. It belongs to a family or drugs called benzodiazepines, which includes better known drugs such as Xanax and Valium.
Temazepam is taken right before bedtime, and is not to be taken unless the the person taking it intends to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Like Adderall, the effects of benzodiazepines such as Temazepam last roughly as long as that of most over-the-counter medications, and is metabolized and out of the person’s system the next day, with all effects typically gone in the morning.
Also like Adderall, the potentially dangerous side effects the drug some would like to ascribe to Zimmerman (hallucination, agitation) are extremely remote, occurring in less than one-half of one percent of patients (0.5-percent) while the drug is in the body in an effective dose.
If George Zimmerman took Temazepam the night before, it would have metabolized,and would not remain in his system beyond a trace amount, and would not have had any affect on him by the time of the confrontation.
Anyone attempting to claim that Adderall or Temazepam caused George Zimmerman to become a violent, vengeful, stalking monster looking for victim is not dealing with pharmaceutical fact.
If these medications were taken as typically prescribed, prior dosages would have metabolized through Zimmerman’s body, and neither would exist in his system or contribute to his actions.
Further, if these medications were taken atypically, the probability of them causing the side effects proclaimed by some less-than-honest critics are exceeding remote.