For decades, American society has been well-aware of the problems associated with alcohol and driving. High schools educate teens about the dangers of drinking and driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) has its anti-drinking and driving campaigns, and state and federal agencies have theirs.
While driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol remains a top safety concern, a whole new problem has emerged on the scene – driving under the influence of prescription medications, which can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
The is the issue: The number of Americans who are addicted to prescription meds has skyrocketed nationwide, especially as access to prescription drugs has become easier through low-income programs like Medi-Cal and Medicaid.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Most drugs of abuse can alter a person’s thinking and judgement, leading to health risks, including addiction, drugged driving and infectious disease.”
Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs:
- Prescription opioids, including: Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphine.
- Prescription sedatives, including: Nembutal, Luminal, Xanax, Limbitrol, Valium, Ativan, Halicon, Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien.
- Prescription stimulants, including: Adderall, Benzedrine, Concerta, and Ritalin.
If prescription opioids or sedatives are combined with alcohol, they can slow down the breathing and heart rate, possibly leading to coma or death.
If a person is addicted to prescription opioids or sedatives and they mix them with alcohol and get behind the wheel, it can lead to a drug-related DUI or worse, a fatal DUI crash.
Despite the fact that prescription stimulants are meant to help people increase their alertness and attention, it is not safe to mix them with alcohol. When prescription stimulants are combined with alcohol, they mask the depressant effect of alcohol, increasing the person’s risk of alcohol overdose and DUI.