Drugged driving

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I was watching Dr. Oz a couple days ago. I have no idea why. I don’t like the show.  Anyway, he was discussing drugged driving… something that is becoming a rising concern given the number of prescription drugs we take.  It is a hot-button topic for chronic migraine sufferers when there have been cases of people with treated migraines being charged with DUI.  Because it means Driving Under the Influence, which can include medication, which does include pretty much everything we take to abort a migraine.  And people also say we should not drive while having a migraine.  Thus, we should not drive at all.  Honestly, when you think about it, that is quite true.

The police officer on Dr. Oz and this would differ in Canada and various states, someone can be charged with a DUI, lose their license, get fined and have their car towed.  For using prescription drugs that we are taking as prescribed.  Some that were mentioned where blood pressure meds and anti-depressants, which are two migraine preventatives, both of which I am currently on, plus an anti-seizure med.  The problem with some of these meds is the sedation aspect, may cause drowsiness which effectively slows reaction time.  Not in all people of course.  And it does not say on the script not to drive.  Nor do our doctors tell us we cannot drive.  So that sucks for anyone charged with a drugged DUI for prescription meds since apparently doing as our doctor said is not an excuse, nor is ignorance and nor is our personal idea of impairment.

I have had concerns about this myself, but there is no alternative transportation where I live, so I drive to work, but never anywhere else.  Obviously, my doctor has not said I could not, even when I brought it up.  Nor has any pharmacist expressed concerns over a particular med, or the combination of them.  But you know, my reaction time could be affected without my being aware of it.  Since I live with moderate pain, it is only severe pain that concerns me.  And unanticipated side effects are only a concern while I am getting used to a medication.  And really when it comes down to it having a full-blown acute migraine and driving seems to be far more dangerous than having a treated one and driving.  Think of how impaired we can get neurologically from a migraine, not even counting the pain… aside from the visual issues there are huge issues with clarity of thinking and reaction time.  However, migraine or not, our actual preventatives, which we may not notice a change to reaction time given we take them every day, could be counted as impairing us.  Sure would be a good thing to know.

I also tend to trust my doctor’s judgment over and above my own.  I don’t make the decisions, or I would not be working or driving.  He has the power.  Yet, I would be the one suffering the consequences.  And sure as hell do not drink and drive, yet everyone seems to think it is fine when I have more than fifteen migraines a month, that I treat, and three different preventatives.  Most, unfortunately, is that since I do have to work, which does suck, and am not considered disabled and unable to work, the one form of alternative transportation open to people with disabilities is not an option.  Is it right that I must always in all aspects of this life live by other people standards of ‘not sick enough’?  Tell me I have a disability and help me accommodate it, instead of bickering on what is a real disability and what is not.  If we are to be considered legally liable for driving under the influence, then there ought to be a way to help us get around.  And since these are prescription medications that we take on a regular basis shouldn’t our doctors be legally obliged to state we cannot drive instead of making us guess?  I mean, if someone gets severe seizures they cannot drive, so for a chronic condition that might impair our reaction time, plus medications, plus combining medications, shouldn’t there be guidelines for a doctor to follow?  It sucks that we are in this gray zone where people cannot even make up their minds about whether we have a disability or not, let alone thinking about how difficult that condition makes our every day living.

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3 comments

  1. I had heard about people being charged with DUI, when taking abortive meds… but, I hadn't heard that it also included many of the preventive meds. What the heck?! First of all, migraineurs aren't the only ones taking anti-depressants, blood pressure meds, etc… Enforcing everyone that uses any of these meds would 1) be a logistical nightmare, and 2) include a whole lot of people!

    I don't drive very often at all; but I definitely don't drive, when I have to take my abortive med. But, that med comes with a warning not to drive. The preventives don't! Thankfully, I have a husband that can drive me around, and I have family that will do what they can, too. So, I just don't drive. But, if I didn't have the luxury of people to drive me around (and especially if I had to work, which I don't), I'd be shit out of luck!

    I definitely agree that there should be guidelines. And, that if we're deemed 'not sick enough' that there should be some sort of accommodations. There isn't public transportation available everywhere. And, it seems unfair that we'd have to spend all that money using it, when we really were able to drive ourselves in our own car.

    How dumb!!!

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  2. I thought so myself. I get that driving with an acute migraine is a whole issue on its own. I get taking heavy duty painkillers and our abortives and driving is also not a grand idea. But preventatives? That seems to be excessive considering this is medication we need and no one is stating firmly that we cannot drive, bit some random cop can charge us with a DUI? The only thing about that that makes sense is when we first begin a preventative and there are some strong side effects for a bit while we adjust to it… but once we have been on it awhile, even years for some, I doubt any side effect would have that dramatic of an effect.

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  3. I agree. If, after taking a preventive med for months or years, you're still having side effects that would prevent you from driving safely… I think that you would either a) move on to a different medication, with fewer side effects; or b) know that about yourself and choose not to drive. We're not idiots!

    Has most of the issue with the preventives been in a certain area, or is it scattered? Do you know if there have been any of the charges that have been fought against in court? I think it'll be interesting to see how this all turns out.

    I don't want to be driving with impaired judgment. BUT, our doctors, pharmacists, and medication labels DON'T warn us for many of our medications. It would be unrealistic to say that no one that takes any type of medication can drive without being subject to charges of DUI! That would include SOOO many people! We're following doctor's orders… we're not taking the meds haphazardly/recklessly. Arg!

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