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Medication Impact on Driving and Working



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,421
    I knew this topic would receive a lot of attention. And from the beginning, I requested the forum rules to be adhered to and no one person is chastised for their opinions.
    I want to thank all of you for helping out with this.
    Some people can look at this topic and say its all Black and White, while others can see Gray material. I wish there was a clear cut answer. But what I have summarized from everyone's post:

    1 - Impairment, no matter how that is reached should be considered critical and all limitations (ie driving a car) should be applied.

    2 - Each of us are individuals, so what might make one person loopy, has little effect on another one.

    3 - In any situation, while on some pain (narcotic) medication and you are pulled over by law officers, you may be subject to tests and be considered as Driving while under the Influence.

    4 - Mixing alcohol with certain drugs is considered serious and have long lasting impacts

    5 - Pain needs to be controlled. If you ignore you pain, this will always come back to haunt you. Many people feel that taking pain medications should be done only after you are suffering. Ask any doctor and they will tell you that you should never wait until the pain is too high. I know that if I am going to do something that could hurt me (ie long drives, raking leaves ,etc) I should take my pain medications BEFORE I have the upcoming pain.
    I had a follow up appointment with my Pain Management doctor yesterday. We discussed a recent situation that I wen through. I am always trying to find ways to eliminate the narcotic pain medications. Recently I held off taking my breakthrough medications until much later in the day.
    That backfired on me, because my pain discomfort was tough to handle, so instead of just getting by the following day, I needed additional breakthrough meds to help.

    6 - How pain medications are looked at. Since pain really cant be seen, people just have to imagine what it is.
    And for what appears to be healthy people (many spine patients) when they take pain medications it is frowned upon. But for Cancer patients, COPD patients, etc, the medications seem to be ok. Pain is pain and it does not distinguish as to what is the root cause.

    I am happy that this thread has maintained a positive attitude. I am not naive enough to realize that some people may still be offended by some of the comments or opinions stated here. Keeping those differences at bay and not attacking one another is in tune as to what the Spine-Health patient forums are all about.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 

  • Entire reply removed by moderator paulgla. Material is not relevasnt to the topic.
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  • Entire reply removed by moderator paulgla. Material is not relevasnt to the topic.
  • Very well put, and again, this goes back to that issue of common sense that both Bruce and I have commented on earlier. Unfortunately there are always people that don't have or bother to use common sense and in fact do put innocent lives in danger by driving while medicated with narcotics. It is reassuring to me at least that it appears those of us here at SH are responsible adults that do exercise common sense. :)
  • I'm sure most, if not all, of us here have heard the disturbing stories in the mainstream media regarding people that drive after taking prescription SLEEPING medications, particularly Ambien and/or Ambien CR. Apparently a percentage of those people are unaware they are doing this (known as "sleep driving"). There have been several cases in the news here where teens and young adults get ahold of a parent or other adults prescription ambien and do this "for fun". [( X( But anyhow, here is an article to support "sleep driving" incidents.


    Obviously, this isn't exactly the same circumstance as those driving after having adjusted to the narcotic pain medications they're taking, but I felt it was worthy of mentioning, and applies to this thread.
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  • If only we could find doctors to treat pain for what it is. Pain. Does it matter what the cause? Am I less worthy of relief?

    Because I am young... I shouldn't have these problems. Because I stay home with my child... I should get a job. Because I am a woman... I am hormonal.
    Why is my pain less important?

    Every aspect of my life is judged. By everyone around me. Ever hear that John Mayer song? "Waiting on the world to change" That's me.

    I have to say y'all... my heart is a little broken tonight. I need to find a job. I need to get my butt in gear to save for this new baby. To finally buy a home.

    How can I work, when I can't sit in an office chair? How can I stand on my feet in a grocery store for hours on end? I know I can't lift anything. How can I possibly do this if I can't first get the help I need to get through the day?

    I would love to get back to work. Am I not entitled to do so, because I would require medication? So then should I go on disability? I don't feel "disabled" And if I were to go on disability... I feel I would have even more judgment passed.

  • Thank you Cathy for the link! It's always best to have a factual reference point for clarification, especially when there is intense emotion on both ends of the spectrum of a topic such as this. It would be a good idea for all of us who do take pain medications that have the ability to impair us to go to the link you provided and be informed as to the laws in this regard for where we live. That way there is no speculation, argument or worry.

    Thanks again! :)
  • Bionic~Could you please provide a link that supports this? I don't dispute, or even doubt, what you're saying here at all, it's just that I have spent quite a while tonight on the ADA website and am not seeing this addressed. It would probably be a good idea for any of us that work to become familiar with this protection by the ADA, just in case. Is this part of the Bill that President Bush signed in July of this year, do you know? I'll keep looking myself and if I do find where pain meds in the workplace are addressed, I'll provide the link here. (FYI, I did find where 'illegal' drug use is addressed, just not prescribed meds used legally.)

    Thanks so much! :)
  • http://www.rush.edu/webapps/MEDREL/servlet/NewsRelease?ID=947

    October 16, 2007

    Study Finds Driving Abilities Not Impaired By Moderate, Long-Term Pain Medication Use

    Moderate, long-term pain medication use does not impair a person’s ability to drive safely, according to a study by Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, associate professor, Department of Anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. The study was presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists meeting in San Francisco on October 13.

    Opioid pain relievers, such as morphine and other narcotics, carry warning labels urging patients not to drive or operate heavy machinery during use. In addition, drivers under the influence of pain medication are typically subjected to the same laws and penalties as drivers under the influence of alcohol. And yet, in a recent, preliminary study Buvanendran found no difference in the “driving skills and reaction times” of patients taking morphine compared to non-medicated drivers.

    The study compared two groups of patients: 51 patients chronically receiving oral morphine and 49 patients (the control group) receiving no pain medication. Each study participant drove for approximately 12 minutes in a driving simulator that measured deviation from the center of the road, weaving, the number of accidents, and reaction time to surprise events. The amount of weaving was 3.83 feet for both sets of drivers, and the opioid group had 5.33 collisions compared to the non-opioid group with 5.04 (no statistical difference). Reaction time also was similar for both groups: 0.69 seconds for the controlled group and 0.67 for the opioid group.

    The results suggest that patients who need, long-term pain medicine actually may “become tolerant” to the medication side effects that potentially impair function, Buvanendran said.

    In the future, these patients may be able to live “like normal functioning people, without the stigma and limitations now associated with long-term pain medication use,” he said. Fewer restrictions also will allow patients to travel more easily and access treatments, ultimately improving their quality of life.

    This research model will be used in future studies to assess the effects of other types of anesthetics and pain medication.

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