Could psych meds kill?

By David Joel Miller.

Taking your medication could kill you or someone else.

When we think of drug-related deaths we think first of illegal street drugs and overdose deaths but in fact, legal drugs or medication kill a lot more people than the illegal ones. Psych meds do result in deaths and serious injury.

Several recent studies have highlighted the dangers of taking prescription medication and driving. The problem of impaired drivers includes those taking prescribed psychiatric medication. A recent large study in Taiwan confirms what other studies in the United States have suggested. There is a definite link between taking some, but not all, prescription psychiatric medication and serious car accidents.

At the top of the list for possible danger is sleeping medications. Sleeping pills have been implicated in episodes where people who have no history of substance abuse still had a “black out” and drove without a memory of taking the trip. Now we have evidence that people who take sleeping pills are more likely to be involved in serious accidents. Even if you do not feel impaired you may be at risk. The person who is in no shape to drive is also the person who can’t tell if they are impaired.

Anti-anxiety medications particularly Benzodiazepines have been involved in a number of cases of serious car accidents.

Antidepressants are also present in the system of people who are involved in accidents in a disproportionate number of car crashes. Why antidepressants should be involved is still unclear.

Surprisingly the recent studies have not shown any significant connection between antipsychotics and accidents.

It is not those diagnosed with paranoid-schizophrenia but the anxious-insomniacs who are crashing into us.

My guess is that the increased use of the newer atypical antipsychotic medications has resulted in people with psychosis leading better, safer lives.

Another overlooked factor in accident prevention has been the association of marijuana smoking and serious car accidents. Most people know about the connection between alcohol and accidents but weed?

Studies have shown that the majority of drivers involved in serious accidents are positive for marijuana (THC) at the time of their accident. Either smoking marijuana is increasing your risk of an accident, or most people these days are smoking weed.

Regardless of your feelings about marijuana, drug legalization or decriminalization there appears to be a connection between being high on weed and getting in an accident. So if you smoke I would prefer it if you stayed off the road, especially while I am out there.

So now we know more about this subject of medications, drugs, and driving.

It is not just illegal drugs or alcohol that can impair your driving ability, prescribed drugs including some psychiatric ones also can increase the risk of you hurting yourself or others while driving.

The combination of prescribed medication, street drugs and or alcohol, is just asking to be in a serious accident.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


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