Drivers in Texas who are taking a type of opioid for pain or other health condition need to be aware that driving while under their influence can result in an increase in motor vehicle accidents. Opioids include prescription drugs, such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine, as well as heroin.
According to the American College of Surgeons, using opioids can result in impaired driving. In fact, years of research has concluded that there is a direct association between opioid use and crashes involving cars and other vehicles. Because many patients are not aware of the damaging effect these drugs have on driving and other activities, the ACS is focused on promoting legislation and educating patients about the risks involved when taking these controlled substances.
Relias discusses a study that found that opioid users in the age range of 50 to 80 are even more at risk of being involved in car accidents when under the influence of these drugs. There are multiple reasons for this. These include:
- The higher probability of multiple medications, resulting in drug interactions
- Age-related changes such as deterioration in sensory, memory and cognitive functions
- Existing morbidity, which limits the analgesic choices
There was a much higher risk of crashes among patients who were new opioid users as opposed to frequent users. The proposed reasons for this are adaptation effects and lower tolerance to the drug's effects. Along with educating elderly patients and helping them manage their opioid use, medical providers are encouraged to consider alternative treatments because of opioid-related consequences such as car crashes, falls and other accidents.