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How do you work/drive while on pain meds?

I'm new to the site, & not sure I'm posting in the right area, here goes: like I think pretty much everyone on this forum, I need some kind of narcotic if I even have half a chance to make it through the day (I'm currently on Norco, which isn't a miracle drug, but it helps some). In no way does this make me feel "loopy", "high", or whatever. I just had 250 mg of demoral for the nerve burning procedure, & was completely lucid, that's how much I DONT respond to pain meds! Anyway, despite not feeling the effects of Norco, I absolutely do not drive after I've taken it, because God forbid I got into an accident. & it was found to be in my blood, I could be charged with a DUI. I always make sure I have a minimum of 4 hrs from when I take a dose to when I have to drive. I work in government & drive a government vehicle, so there is no way I can take pain meds while at work. Over the last couple of years, I have suffered horrible pain at work to the point of tears many times. When I would get home, I'd take my meds & be down for the night. In October, I fell at work & it flared up everything, & I've been off work since. I was in such obvious pain at work, & at times using a cane because I couldn't walk that my boss had me meet with Personnel to see if there were any 'reasonable accommodation' that could be, because it was obvious I was on pain, & my boss believed I was not meeting "performance standards" (there is nothing in writing about performance standards, so that was a load of bull.
My response was there was nothing they could do, because there isn't. Like a lot of you I'm sure, I can't sit, stand, or walk for very long without being in pain. What are they going to do, put a bed in the office so I can lay down every 15 minutes? At first I was really upset at my boss, as well as embarrassed, but I later realized he was right. Even though I was giving 110% of myself to my job (and doing the work of 4 people, but that's another story) I was not functioning at the level I needed to be. I'm trying to see if I can medically retire, but if I do have to go back to work I don't know how I will be able to function at all. I've got driving down somewhat; I take my kids to school, come home & take my meds, with 6 hours until I pick them up. Sometimes though, I have a Dr appt or something mid morning, which means no pain meds until after school, & by then I'm dying. My daughter sometimes has dance practice after school, so on some days I may not get to take anything until like 6 pm, which means no meds all day, & I am missrable beyond words, ready to go to ER & beg for something. As I'm sure most of you know, that never goes well. Luckily I don't have to do this every day, hubby drives the kids around as much as possible, but sometimes his work hours don't allow for him to get off time. I'm sorry for such a long post, I'm just so grateful to be able to talk to people who are in my same boat. I'm interested to here how any of you manage to work & drive with pain and/or while on pain meds. Thanks for listening. Susan
We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand


  • ADRJenAADRJen Posts: 211
    edited 01/26/2014 - 1:52 AM
    Personally, I take Norco every day and drive just fine. It says to use caution when driving but to my knowledge it's not illegal.
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • I would drive while taking Norco too. Didn't have any problems with it. I never felt funny or high while taking it though.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • i take oxy 4 times a day but i am used to the meds and it feel like i am taking aspirin, there is no high with me. i can drive fine and never had a problem. i drove from san jose to san diego which is 500 miles and except for getting out to rest my back i drove all of the way. same from san jose to tahoe which is about 5 hour trip and i drive 15 miles to and 15 miles back to work from home 5 days a week.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I feel fine, like many have built a tolerance. My concern is that if you are in an accident bad enough to go to the hospital, at some point your blood will be drawn & it will show up in your blood that you have narcotics in your system. If you are at fault, you can be charged with a DUI, just like if you were drinking alcohol. There have been several news stories about people driving under the influence of narcotics, & how dangerous it can be. What do your PM docs say? Prior to back issues when I've gone to ER for things like kidney stones, broken leg, etc & given a prescription for a narcotic the ER doc always warned me not to take the med & drive , that I could be charged with a DUI. Hence my fear/concern & trying to figure out how to make all this work
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 01/26/2014 - 4:01 PM
    it sounds flippant but don;t get into an accident.. drive carefully and don't speed. just like you should do,
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • & you are assuming I am not a careful driver, when in truth I don't speed, & pay close attention to drivers around me. Haven't had a ticket in about 30 years. Have you ever heard of someone getting into an accident that was not their fault??? I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people who are living with chronic pain from a car accident that was not their fault.
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • did not assume anything. i just stated the obvious and you need to stop being so sensitive. yes i have heard of not being aat fault but so what. i have been in wrecks where it was not my fault and i never had a blood test or got arrested. stop reading things into my posts.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Just logical. Glad you have never been in an accident & hurt somebody, been sued, forced to supply medical records, & found to be under the influence of narcotics YET. Btw, I started this post because I genuinely wanted to see how people handled narcotics & driving. You appear to believe there's nothing to worry about. No need to post any more replies.
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • MSG,
    I totally understand your concern. I feel much the same way you do. I work full time and when I am unable to take my pain meds I am miserable the whole day. I am lucky enough to have a job where I do not need to drive until I get off work. I try to take a pill as soon as I get to work and work my 9 hour shift before taking anymore. I usually have a pretty good morning but about 4 hours into it I am suffering and by the time I get home I am wiped and spend the rest of the night in agony.
    My Surgeon and my PM both told me not to drive while taking narcotic pain meds. They don't really affect me like they do some. I don't get "a high" or tired on them but if for some reason they are found in your system you will be sited with a DUI.
    I am also a very careful driver. But, unfortunately there are many around me who are not so careful. I have had a lot of close calls and none of them would have been my fault. We can be as careful as possible and there are still going to be people who think they own the road or that their time is more valuable than yours and they need to get that 2 seconds ahead of you. I try to never take them if I am going to drive and if I do I only go short distances and try to avoid high traffic areas. Driving a government vehicle, you are obviously a decent driver or you wouldn't have the job so that is not even a issue. I worry more about you losing your job if something were to happen and they were in your system. I just wish you could get the relief you need.
  • Thank you threebears, you totally get where I'm coming from! Everybody thinks government has deep pockets, & people will try to sue for anything. If I were to have narcotics in my system & be caught driving a government vehicle, that would be the end of me. People wonder how we would get "caught" if the police don't suspect anything. Here's what I think could happen: regardless who is at fault, I think most of us have a high likelihood of going to the ER if we are involved in even a realatively minor accident. I'm sure for the vast majority of us, it doesn't take much to cause a huge flare-up. What's the first question they ask you? Are you on a medications? You are going to tell them, & chances are good you've probably been there often enough the know you anyway. If the accident were serious, or God forbid deadly, you can bet the dr is going to tell the cop who is writing up the report (I'm pretty sure they are mandated to). If you are at fault & someone dies, you could be looking at vehicular manslaughter. There's no "legal limit" like there is for alcohol, so there is a lot of gray area with narcotics. A good prosecutor will wipe the floor with you. Interestingly, I found a prior discussion on this topic & it appears to be very contreversial. Sorry that you are in my position, but thanks for sharing your thoughts
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • I take codeine, which isn't as strong as what most people here take, but I have no problem driving on it. As far as I know, the rule with pain meds is the same as other meds that act on the CNS. If it makes you drowsy or affects your alertness, don't drive or operate heavy machinery, if it doesn't, you can do those things. If you are very sedated from meds and you choose to drive, subsequently crashing your car, you may be charged with a crime, but if you are mentally alert and capable of driving, you are not breaking the law by doing so.
  • and in almost every state of the United States, there are laws that do in fact, make it illegal to drive on any medication that can impair your ability to drive.......whether or not they are narcotics, or not.
    If you get into an accident and the police have a suspicion that you are impaired, you can be asked to perform the road side field sobriety tests, and if you refuse, you are automatically ajudicated guilty, and loose your license. If you get into an accident and someone is injured, you can be held legally liable for driving while impaired......
    It is up to each person to know how the medications effect you, and what your states laws are in regard to taking medications and driving in your state.
  • I'm very careful when I have to drive. I also take my 1st dose after I get to work. I really have no problem with the actual driving, I just don't want to have to do any explaining if I do get into a fender bender. I seem to have a problem with other drivers running into me.
    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Until recently. I was sent for a drug screen thru my employer and since i have scripts i passed the test but not without stipulations. I am no longer allowed to drive during working hours on the clock and I was told I cant take my meds while working, I am going to end up being forced out due to not being able to take the pain while working
  • i have been totally up front about my meds to my employer; teaching and i have a list of accommodations. i also work with a person at hr who works with me and makes sure my employer does not hassle. they try to but have stopped in the past due to my threatening a law suit regarding handicap people.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I usually take my first dose around 4am, so that way when I leave for work at 7:00, its been quite a while. I know that a DUI is always a possibility, but I have to get to work and I have to drive to get there. They don't affect me any certain way and I'm also a very careful driver. BUT i HAVE to work, I can't apply for disability, and even if I wanted to, I couldn't afford to live off of it. So, as long as my brain can function, come hell or high water, my butt will figure out a way to get to work., even if it means I have to take my meds first. Disclaimer though, I work in the private sector, in an office, and do not drive a company car so its my liability, not my company's. And yes, they are aware of my issues. Just my $0.02 on the issue.
  • how are you Ms paininohio? nice to hear from you again. yes like you i take my first dose around 4am then i drive to work at about 6:30. i don't want to go on disability and i am too old to if i wanted to. i would rather work then do nothing. i have pain issues at work and take meds also but not in front of the kids. then when i get home i take my 3rd dose because i am so tired and worn out from working. i have been on meds for 12 or so years and drive all over the place from san jose to san diego from san jose to tahoe and never had a problem i have been stopped and in accidents from the fault of others but never had to do a blood test or any other test. if i am too tired, i let my wife drive. i get out on long trips to rest every 100 or so miles. i never think about getting stopped and walking the straight line. like i said before, my body is so used to the meds it is like taking aspirin and i never get that high feeling or feeling loopy. i don't drink so i don't have to worry about that. it is really a non issue for me. it never enters my mind.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    edited 01/29/2014 - 7:35 AM
    I was wondering what most people, who require narcs to get through the day, do to feel okay to drive without paranoia, and at the same time being able to cope with what you need to do to survive like working and grocery shopping? I had multi-level autograft fusion at L45 & L5S1 Nov 13th 2013. On my 2nd day at the hospital my mother died unexpectedly which put my initial recovery period useless. I was on Oxycodone, valium and Oxycontin and spent most of my time crying from the sudden loss of my mom plus the pain of the operation. I had started to recover somewhat physically from the exercises (walking mostly) and trying not to lift more than 15 lbs. All the while having an extremely painful area at the S1 sacrum/coccyx region. After imaging was done twice at that area, it appears that the cage inserted on S1 collapsed (couldn't withstand the stress on the adjacent disc) which is the reason for the pain. I wouldn't have thought I would still be on the amount of narcs I am taking to get through the day but I am. Trying to decrease amt of meds I'm taking doesn't cut it. Thinking about driving to work w/out meds and working even part-time just seems to be impossible. My STD runs out in 3 weeks. My doc asked me if I thought I would be able to drive on my own but truthfully, there are too many people suing people for the littlest things. So even though I "think" I am capable of driving any given distance, I have decided not to at this time. There are just too many chances of hurting myself or god forbid someone else. Someone can be the best of drivers but crap happens and we all know how insurance companies deal with DUI's. Then your license is suspended...no way to get to work...and explaining your situation to people makes you feel like a drug addict. I guess I don't want an answer cuz there really isn't one other than if anyone out there knows of a medication that works on our type of pain without it being considered as an offense, I would appreciate your input.
    Boy can I write a story. Sorry, but this is my first time on this site. Thanks for listening. Lee Lee
  • justinjjustin Posts: 39
    edited 02/09/2014 - 7:20 AM
    Post edited to remove inappropriate forum response.
  • Wow, 1 in a 1,000,000 chances, huh? Got the statistics to back that up, because I'd love to see that study. After I posted this question, I found that this topic has been discussed several times, & people seem to be split on the subject. Differences of opinion are fine, but your response suggests that you are very young and/or very immature. You might want to to look at the posting rules that talk about respectful posting. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm sure one of the moderators will be happy to educate you.
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 02/09/2014 - 7:33 AM
    i never ever think about it happening and when i drive i don't weave all over the place or drive erratically which i would be pulled over.my mom was afraid that she would kill someone when she drove that she would never drive unless she had to and then she would not go on the freeway. she would take the train and not fly either because as she said, if god met us to fly he would have given us wings.

    Post edited by Sandi to remove offensive comments.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • MSGMSG Posts: 296
    edited 02/08/2014 - 6:16 PM
    You are obviously of the believe that nothing bad could ever happen because you choose to drive under influence of drugs. I, & several others disagree, but I & others have not made the snarky remarks you two seem to thrive on. I sa asked how people live their lives with the challenges we all have, & while i vehemently disagree with your choice, I figure you are adults, & can make your own decisions, just as you do if you choose to drink & drive, I have not belittled your decision,nor has any one else. I have not tried to change your I have let your opinions be that your opinions. I will however continue to pray for any innocent victim you may get into an an accident that they survive

    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
    edited 02/09/2014 - 7:36 AM
    i used examples of me and my family. i said i don't think about it. it is amazing the amount of people who should get their money back from schools since you read things into posts that i did not say, it is what you read into it. i am getting tired of the name callers. ignore my posts or grow up.

    Post edited by Sandi to remove offensive comments/personal comments.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • for the use of prescription medications is far higher than one can assume....all the police need is a reason to stop you- probable cause - broken tailight, expired tag, out of date inspection, weaving , failure to stop completely, or heaven forbid , an accident, and your eyes will give you away. Most police officers are trained in interdiction- drugs, alcohol etc, and know what to look for.
    All anyone has to do is do a search on the internet, and you can find the laws for your state regarding driving while impaired, and it's penalties. Same for the statistics on arrests due to impairment.
    It may not happen to everyone of us, but it does happen far more often than we care to think about and it is our responsibility to be aware of the laws in our states and understand that the consequences to choosing to drive while taking these meds is a choice we have to make.
  • My friend lives in California. Last time she was at her Pain Management doctors office they took a blood sample to keep on record & notes stating that she was functioning perfectly well on her well established medications & that it's their medical opinion that she is not impaired.
    The PM doctor stated that they are now doing it for all of their patients who are long term narcotic users. It could help if she ever had a car accident.
    Some of us need these medications just to function. I don't know what the answer is. I have to drive & I have to take my medications. I don't feel impaired in any way. If I tried to drive without pain medications I would be a danger on the roads!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • For removing some of the snarky comments. And thank you to all who posted their thoughts & ways of handling these issues that we all face. I appreciate hearing opinions that are different than mine, because it makes me think of things from a different view that I might not have thought of before. I respect how passionate people can be, but I just think we all need to express our views in such a way that we get our thought across without making others hesitant to express
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • All you need is 8 grand and a decent lawyer if the lightning actually Hits You On The Head. The cops would have to be pretty diligent and eager to pin you for the slightest possibility to convict in court. As your breath wouldn't reek like it would if alcohol was used or blood shot eyes. All you would have is maybe smaller pupils. But to get convicted it has to be beyond reasonable doubt. Sorry to burst your bubbles but like I said this is how bad our justice system is. Now If I felt wierd on my med or if I felt it was affecting me in anyway I'm not a stupid person and of course I wouldn't drive but the narcos I take isn't a heavy dose so I'm good but keep telling me how you know the cops are gonna take us down
  • It may very well be , that by and large, most of us will never have an interaction with the police, however, that does not negate the fact that every state in the US and most countries have some law on their books that makes driving while impaired illegal, and while the repercutions are variable by state, and country, avoiding a conviction is not as easy as giving an attorney 8 thousand dollars and going on our merry way.
    Interdiction is something that every agency in this country has at least one officer trained in performing an assessment on the roadside, and if they have a reasonable suspicion, pin prick pupils is just one of them, you can be taken to the hospital for a blood test. If you refuse, you can face automatic suspension of your license and in some states automatic conviction.
    While some of us may not have any options as to whether or not we choose to drive, we are all responsible for that choice .
  • paininohioppaininohio Posts: 240
    edited 02/18/2014 - 9:26 AM
    I personally have to drive while on meds. Granted I take my morning dose about 2 hours before I hit the road before work (I don't get up at 4am anymore, I've been having sleeping issues) (not to mention I would have a hard time even getting ready for work if I didn't take it that early) and about an hour before I leave for work, but that's the best I can do, I have to go to work, and if I wait until I get to work to take my first dose, then i too would be much more distracted by the pain to drive well. Its kind of darned if you do, darned if you don't, so like Jon, I just try not to dwell on it. I don't feel impaired at all. But driving under the influence, is driving under the influence regardless if it is a prescribed medication or alcohol. That's just the way it is. Driving while taking meds is really a personal decision that one has to make for themselves and their own person situation. I hope that helps some.
  • I was on massive amounts of opiates and then did a medication detox and I'm starting to increase the doses again.

    I've been told that if I'm in an accident (doesn't matter whether at fault or not at fault), if blood tests show up opiates, then, I'll be charged with "Driving under the influence of a prescribed medication." You also get charged if you have marijuana in your system (I don't advocate driving stoned, despite what some idiots think.....) which I use to help me sleep. I don't smoke during the day, but, I do pop opiates.

    I rarely drive anyway, only because after about 15 mins, my back aches like crazy, spasms start and I'm a danger to others.
    More titanium steel in me than a modern car.....
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