DUIs aren’t just for driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs anymore. An increasing number of people are being injured, arrested, and imprisoned for manslaughter because they were driving while impaired by over-the-counter meds, or necessary drugs prescribed by their doctor!
In fact, experts say it’s now common for police and ER staff to deal with the “unexpectedly impaired.” Literally, people who have no idea that that the drugs they thought were “safe” had made them the equivalent of a drunk driver. Including sleep aids, anti-smoking meds, antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, even OTC antihistamines and cough medicine.
Basically, you’re in danger from any drug that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, slowed reflexes, or impaired judgment. And the problem is so common, police officers are being specially trained to evaluate drivers affected by things other than alcohol.
So, what’s the solution here?
- First: Read the warning label on every med you take.
- Also: Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know everything you’re taking, otherwise, you risk dangerous interactions. For example, antihistamines can turn some anti-anxiety drugs into fast-acting sedatives.
- Also, know this: The dosages and warnings aren’t necessarily accurate for you. For example, if you’re super-thin, drugs can hit harder or last longer than if you’re average weight. And since women’s stomachs empty more slowly than men’s, drugs may last longer than the labels indicate.
- One final safety tip: Even a small amount of beer, wine or hard liquor combined with certain meds can cause severe intoxication. So, if any drug says, “Don’t use alcohol while taking this” – don’t!