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So here's a question "How many others out there drive with pain meds on board?"

RwillRRwill Posts: 300
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Pain Medications
I have off and on over the last 17 years driven while I'm on pain meds. I know that they are affecting me in some way but I haven't ever felt like it is impairing my driving. But is it?? Just a question I sometimes think about and I was curious if others drive with their pain meds? I have to drive or I couldn't live my life the way I do.....


  • Rwill,

    Aside from my career as a law enforcement officer, I lost a brother to an 'impaired' driver who like ALL of them stated to the Police on scene, "But it wasn't affecting my driving!!!"

    So I don't lose it here, I am going to say this. If you are off your game just > < much, it could cost someone (mother, father, sister, Brother, child) THEIR lives! Think about that, think about that, please!!!

    Okay, I am going to hop out, as this is too close to me personally.

    My edit: Now that I have calmed a bit NO I do NOT drive on *any* pain meds, to include Lyrica!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Sorry to hear of your loss. Guess I am just trying to balance this all. I have been given Oxycontin which is in my system 24/7. The doctors have not told me not to drive either do the pharmacist. Just trying to figure out how to balance it all because I do have to drive. Again sorry if I pushed a hot button, trying to figure out how other people deal.
  • Rwill said:
    Sorry to hear of your loss. Guess I am just trying to balance this all. I have been given Oxycontin which is in my system 24/7. The doctors have not told me not to drive either do the pharmacist. Just trying to figure out how to balance it all because I do have to drive. Again sorry if I pushed a hot button, trying to figure out how other people deal.
    Sorry Rwill, there are "two" of me, the now retired law enforcement side, and the 'personal' side of this issue! First off, thanks for your condolences, it is appreciated. This ISSUE I have with folks that take this stuff and shortly there after drive, rank right up there with the dude (or dude-et) that drinks a few at the bar and drives home, okay?

    We all have seen medication warnings that say "don't operate or drive until you know how it affects you..." My toprol (heart med) is like that. I've never had problems with it, but to this day I wait 3-4 hours before I drive with it - now in fairness you might be doing the same, but your post sent me in a ummm... bad memory position? I just look at it this way, how many have we seen on this board alone that while sitting innocently at a stop light or sign, get SLAMMED by some jerk? Only to later find that "cough" person was under the influence? It doesn't matter if it is legal - beer, vodka etc., they are legal now right? But what level is the key?

    You can buy a device that tells you your level with alcohol, but unfortunately, one for drugs isn't out there yet. You just have to balance 'your reactions' on the levels you take, to what is legal. How would you FEEL if you hit someone and destroyed them - made them join our crappy spiney club? Okay, I am getting emotional again, so I will bow out. It is in your hands, as is anyone who takes meds and chooses to drive.....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • hi!! :H i had a total of 6 major car accidents before i realized i should not be on the road when on medications. these were not minor accidents, but totaled all the cars. i was fortunate to be the only one ever injured, thank goodness!! i still carry scars on my face from one accident.. i was 38 when i had to give up driving. i always felt "normal" when i got into the car, but it was obvious i was impaired!! please do not drive when on your medications.. it can be done, a life without a car!! i got a bike,learned to love to walk, found out about the bus, and have a great husband who will take me anywhere i want to go.. but no driving!!don't get me wrong, i miss the freedom of getting into a car and going on my own.. but the next accident might of been the end of my life or someone else's!! so for the past 16 years i have not driven and never will again!! i made that promise to myself after the last accident.. i learned the hard way, not to drive on medications.. please don't make that mistake!! Jenny :)
  • even though it may not be illegal to drive on over the counter medications, they do carry a warning about driving while under the influence, that it is not safe.. that warning means just that!!! and i imagine if you asked people involved in accidents if they had taken any over the counter meds before driving, some would say "yes!" just a thought and another reason not to drive on many medications!! Jenny :)
  • Brenda is absolutely right - No driving on meds - The life you take may be your own or a loved one or some ones loved one. It is worth destroying or taking a life to get to the store??

    I do not understand the labels that say "until you know how this affects you". This to me is a license to kill instead of a legal disclaimer. How does a person on medication judge how they are affected?? Makes no sense.

    I am very lucky. I only take neurontin all day long and I can plan any trips around the end of my dosage period when the affects are the least. Any narcs that I take are at bed time.

    But how do you live without a car?? I think it is very difficult to stop but there are alternatives. Bike, walking to a local store. Many larger areas have Peapod or a similar supermarket service that will let you order online and they deliver for a small fee ($5 by me). Smaller areas often have someone who does errands. Or ask a relative or friend.

    Appointments are the most challenging. But ask a relative or friend. Take a bus. By me they have accessaride which will pick you up at your house and take you to a doctor. Then they return you home. There are also cabs which are a lot pricier but may be worth it.

    I had a friend a few years ago who was legally blind since birth. She can see but very poorly. We talked once about driving. She couldn't drive but never felt deprived. When they moved out to the suburbs she learned the bus schedule and cab companies and made friends. She organized her schedule to do other errands when her husband was home (remember when families had only one car???). She said what she saved in not having a car was far less than what she paid in bus and cab fare. This woman never minded not having a car........

    Driving is so dangerous when you are in the most perfect condition - alert, well rested, not distracted, good health, perfect vision, well maintained vehicle. When you are taking prescription drugs you are not in perfect condition - in a fog, tired from not sleeping, worrying about next dr appt, in pain that meds dont help, blurry vision from meds, when was the last time you brought the car in??? .

    Ask yourself this question -- would you want your mother, daughter, son in the car in front of you??
  • A hotly debated topic for sure...

    Personally, I do not drive while on medicine. I am currently on IR meds though, so it is easy enough to schedule my dosing around when I need to drive. The thing for me is that it is illegal, plain and simple. In most (if not all) states driving on narcotics, or any meds that potentially make you "less safe" as a driver, is considered driving under the influence and if you were to be pulled over or cause an accident you would be treated the same as a drunk driver. I also think that I do not want the people driving in the cars around me to be on pain medicine, so why would I choose to drive on them?

    But, on the other side, there are multiple research studies out there showing that people with tolerance to pain medication are not impaired to drive. They've done tests in driving simulators comparing reaction times and driving skills and have found no difference between chronic pain medicine users and normal controls. There has been some push to get states to change the laws, but I highly doubt this will ever happen as it would be hard to define or prove tolerance to any meaningful degree.

    It's a tough issue, and I'll be interested to read replies from people that do choose to drive on meds.
  • I'm an RN and I can't work even though Oxycontin helps my pain, if I were to harm a patient even as a natural human error, I would be accountable for taking a controlled substance and working. Same for driving, even if you say it wasn't your fault, God forbid, if you're found to have drugs on board you're responsible. I don't drive and I don't work taking narcotics. Yes so that's my answer no to driving on narcotics. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Good topic.

    Brenda I am sorry about your loss. I can only imagine how that effects your points of view from the personal and professional aspects.

    I am in a very tricky position. I am going to be forced to drive within the next couple of weeks. I am starting to change my medication times to operate around it. I have a 50 mile commute each way, to and from work. Now I have to figure out how to take the extended release meds and the bt meds to work and not effect my ability to drive. This terrifies me. My last bout of driving the commute did not go well. By the time I get off work, I was taking dbl dosage of bt meds just to make it home. This of course being caused by sitting/standing at work then sitting for the entire drive home. I am at a loss to figure this out. I am fortunate, when I am driving home at night, there is very little traffic. Maybe a stroll around a parking lot halfway home would help. I don't want to injure myself or anyone else.

    Best to all,

  • Thank you Traci,

    He was killed 32 years ago, but the sting of "why and how" has never really left. He and I were the only lefties, and were stick buds basically - I stuck to him! (G)

    Now I don't know if this will work, but this is what I did when I was working - I had 3 school zones to go through each way. I would take my meds once I got to the office. By 8 hours and ready to leave I was still 'good' sort of. Drove home, took the next set. Is there any way you can work yours that way? Just trying to give alternatives. My Director wasn't thrilled that I took my meds in the office, but I told him that was the *only* way I could function and the only safe way for me to drive. He got over it! :)

    Love ya Traci, hope you can work something out! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I have for over 20 years with one mishap due to many factors mainly lack of sleep. I don't drink which combined is lethal!!
    You shoud know before you get behind the wheel if you can or can't drive. If not sure have a family member test you for reflex and coordination. Sadly for many of us we have no choice as we ran our bodies into the ground. I don't drive now as I am awaiting additional surgery to remove faulty acdf fussion
  • So which is worse, a person driving with meds in their system which are not knowingly impairing them, or the same person distracted by pain because they didn't take their meds in order to drive. Accidents by distracted drivers are just as lethal and devastating.

    We all react differently to the same medications. Some people report incredible side effects from a low dose of drugs like Neurontin. Others take very large doses of the same medication and experience no side effects. So do we force all people taking Neurontin to skip a dose or not drive?

    Being responsible is what it really boils down to. Someone who is exhausted from working long hours who gets behind the wheel ... is that really any different than someone tired because they took an OTC antihistamine? Making the right choice for ourselves each time, is our own personal responsibility. So we have to be willing to accept the consequences of any of our actions. A person reaching to turn the knob on a radio or adjust the air conditioning, is just as dangerous behind the wheel.

    My point is, that to say "driving on any medication is wrong", is an impossible challenge. We as people do our best to make traveling by motor vehicle as safe as possible. The one part that we cannot effectively control, is the human element. We can however do our best to be responsible drivers. Beyond that, it's quite frankly out of our control.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    and there were pages and pages of member's replying.
    It got to the point, where the initial question about Driving while on Medications was lost and it became a battle between how different states handle this, need for medical reforms to provide transportation, etc.

    No question this is a tough question. But in the end, the answers are the same as they were last time around.

    1 - Driving while on any medication that states on the bottle, Do not drive while using this medication.

    2 - Do not drive using this medication or operate any machinery until you are accustomed to the results.

    3 - Some states have much more flexibility in determining if a driver is impaired from prescribed medications

    This could go on and on, but as "C" pointed out, it really is a matter of total responsibility when it comes to anyone getting behind the wheel to drive a vehicle.

    - With medications are we zoned out?

    - Without medications, is the pain so great, we are zoned out?

    - How can we get to our medical appointments without having access to any transportation?

    Personally, I readily admit that I have driven a care while taking pain medications. The same as I admit to driving a car after having a drink or two.

    I am right? I do know that when I was on heavier dosages of pain medications and/or I had too much to drink, I do not drive.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks guys I really didn't want to cause a hot debate I just wanted to see what other people do. I've been in the position where I'm in the car and crying because I was hurting soooo bad. Was I a good driver then? Absolutely not.. If I am zoned out by meds I definately don't get behind the wheel. Unfortunately we live out in the country so taking the bus or riding my bike is not even a option. Of course I couldn't ride a bike right now even if I wanted to,ouch. Thanks for all your opinions like I have said I just want to try and figure this out.
  • Yep, I'm with C and Ron, if I followed the strictest reading, I wouldn't have been able to drive since my accident, as to some extent I have been using pain management since then.

    When I first started using the Fentanyl patch I was very careful, as it made me quite drowsy, but even that is starting to pass. But my blood pressure medication makes me drowsy as well (that stuff makes me practically narcoleptic). So does Benadryl. Or missing a night's sleep. It really doesn't take a controlled substance to make a person dangerous behind the wheel.

    I do take one medication that I would never, ever drive after taking. Ambien (zolpidem). That stuff is freaky. Tiger Woods deserved to be beat with a golf club if he was going to get behind the wheel while taking that stuff.
  • I will only drive if I'm used to the effects of my current regimen. When I was able to work, it was as a cornice worker (installing,removing, etc.-sheetmetal on roofs). There was many days that I shouldn't have been working up on those roofs. I would however, never drive until I was used to my medications. Working was my own life at risk, driving could be anyones!
  • I guess I am lucky in this regard in an odd sort of way. Other than methadone which made me sleepy no other pain killers have impaired my driving at all. I just don't get a "buzz" or any loopy feeling. Several doctors have explained that this is because it just goes directly to the pain. I honestly don't know why people use it recreationally.

    I think this has actually got me in trouble with doctors in the past because I never saw a problem in asking them for opiates since all they did was help my pain. Then I learned about the rest of the real world from reading on sites like this.

    Another odd thing is that I am very sensitive to other drugs, both prescription and OTC. If I take just one half an antihistamine I should not drive. Many other drugs give me bad side effects or stomach problems.

    My only problem with driving now is I have to sit and can't move so I can only last about one hour before I have to pull over and walk around for a bit. If I have to sit too long the pain would be the worst distracting factor and I start freaking out from the pain.

    I used to love to drive...........Now it's about once a month...........to the doc, of course

  • The one thing nobody here has compared meds to is driving while talking on a cell phone. Maybe that's such a hot button I shouldn't even bring it up since it is legal, and all. I make it a practice to never drive when I plan to talk on my cell and I pull over if I receive a call I really need to take. But, when I'm driving during working hours and my business phone rings, I find myself fumbling in my purse to grab the phone and see who's calling. That is hugely more dangerous for me to do than to drive with pain meds on board and I berate myself every time I do it.

    As for driving with pain meds, I've done it but only if I can verify that my reflexes are as quick as they are when I don't have meds in my system. I am in total agreement that one person can be very impaired by something that has little or no effect on the next person. That's not to justify doing something illegal, mind you, just saying a hard and fast rule cannot be applied to everyone. But more imporantly, in my opinion, we all would do well to look at the other things we do while driving which potentially impair us.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • People are forced to take risks because of a inadequate life resources, to survive. I feel for you, all I can say is talk to your doctor and tell him to give you medication that doesn't effect your driving ability.

    I carry pain medication in my car, but only ones that are safe to use while driving.

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