Driving under the influence of drugs, Part IIBernice Clark ▼ | Wednesday March 17, 2010 6:01PM ET
Many people who are performing their regular duties use drugs to be healed or to better control their disease. Unfortunately, they are not aware of that many drugs can affect driving skills.
People react differently to drugs, thus it is hard to claim with certainty that a drug will affect someone's ability to drive. As the result, many drive under influence of drugs, assured that they have no effect on their driving abilities. When they realize that it is not so, usually it is too late.
The first and the extremely dangerous combination is alcohol and drugs taken together. Caution is needed in cough medicines containing codeine or pholcodin. Codeine is an opiate pain reliever and cough suppressant. It makes patients sleepy and causes blurred vision or slowed breathing, unusual thoughts or behaviour, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, convulsions. Some eye drops and ointments contain codeine.
Vitamins, herbal supplements and minerals could also interact with codeine, heightening side effects. Also have in mind that many herbal supplements contain alcohol.
On the other side, pholcodin, a cough suppressant, may cause hypoventilation (which may become potentially life-threatening), drowsiness and nausea. It will interact with other cough suppressants or codeine or morphine derivatives (narcotic pain relievers) and increase the effect of those drugs.
Morphine taken together with alcohol causes dangerous side effects and even death. That's why you should always check food and medicine labels to be sure that those products do not contain alcohol. Morphine causes poor vehicle control, poor coordination, slow response, delayed reactions, difficultly in following instructions, and falling asleep at the wheel.
Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine used to treat allergies: the common cold, runny nose caused by allergies, sneezing, itching or watery eyes. It causes confusion, extreme drowsiness, severe dizziness, anxiety, restless feeling, nervousness or weak or shallow breathing.
Diphenhydramine from the same group makes you sleepy and it shortens reaction time. Being sleepy and not able to react are two things you certainly don't want while driving. It can be found in pills or nasal sprays.
Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed and abused depressant medications. There are many types of benzodiazepine medications. The most commonly prescribed are Valium and Xanax. Short term effects of benzodiazepine include: impaired motor coordination, impaired thinking and memory, confusion, altered vision, tremors and vertigo. Long term effects include: impaired thinking, memory and judgment, disorientation, lack of coordination, and confusion. Benzodiazepines are the first on the black list as a cause of car accidents.
Warnings about the possible impact of medication on driving ability can be found in the instructions attached to the drug. The simple reading can save your life and life of another participants in traffic. Read them. ■