Public Health Reports recently published a study showing that driving under the influence of prescription drugs has become a bigger problem in the US than ever before.
Driving fatalities while under the influence of prescription drugs such as Xanax, Cymbalta, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Sarafem, and Abilify are now surpassing those caused by drunk driving.
According to the author of the study, Fernando Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, “While we’ve seen a decrease over the years in motor vehicle fatalities involving people under the influence [of alcohol], the nature of those crashes is changing.”
Wilson’s study shows a shocking increase in car accidents due to prescription drugs. Because the mind altering medications don’t allow a person’s mind to naturally cope with life’s stressors and periods of depression, the prescription drugs can quickly change the chemical makeup of the brain.
This confuses the normal functions of the mind, which tries to adapt quickly and thus becomes stressed in new ways. This predisposes the person taking the prescription medication to act out of character, which can have disastrous results when they get behind the wheel. In fact, some drug labels state that suicidal behavior as a side effect could turn into violent or risky driving patterns in a vehicle.
Wilson’s study examined the characteristics of US drivers involved in fatal crashed between the years of 1993 and 2010. Drug use during that time period increased significantly, but in addition the percentage of impaired drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled in that timeframe.
The authors of the study hope that medical professionals begin educating patients about the dangers of driving while taking prescription medications.