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Benzos and Driving


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Here in my country we are about to introduce legislation which allows the police to test drivers for drugs when they are pulled over.  Originally it was just for stree drugs but after a media campaign the Govt has altered this to include benzos.

 

Yesterday in our local newspaper there was a letter from one very concerned lady stating that she had been on benzos for many years for anxiety and agoraphobia and is now really concerned that her one outlet - her ability to drive - is about to be taken away from her.  I know the support group I go to has had a few phone calls from people in similar situations expressing their concern and in some cases their anger at this new legislation.  Obviously these people have no comprehension of benzos and the nightmare they could have if they decided to stop the medication.  I know when I was on 2mg of Clonazepam I felt very "drugged" and made the decision myself to stop driving as I considered myself a danger on the road.

 

Just a question to other BBs from around the world - what is your country's legislation re driving and benzo use?  And has anyone else felt their driving was impaired through being on benzos?

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LB - where are you from?

 

I'm in Indiana. I haven't heard of any such laws. I am not in favor of big gov't and think that there are all ready too many laws out there, but I would be in favor of something like this.

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I don't know how you could measure for benzos and get an accurate impression of how much, or if, a person is being affected in a way that would impact their driving ability.

 

First off, there are many people who at a certain dose are "normal", any less then that dosage then they are in withdrawals (which is bad for driving), any more then that they may be "intoxicated", so to speak (which is also bad for driving).

 

Secondly, because of tolerance you wouldn't be able to come up with a good benzo measurement that would indicate how incapacitated a person is.  For some, 0.5mg Xanax knocks them out, while others 2mg Xanax has virtually no affect.

 

Thirdly, because of the large variance in benzo half-lives how are they going to tell how long ago the benzo was ingested, and whether it's still exerting an influence?

 

Lastly, like someone mentioned, many people need their benzo just to be able to function normally.

 

Sounds like a bad road to be going down.

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I'm in New Zealand - population 4+ million.  Just a little country which seems to be over-regulated in a lot of ways.

 

I too wonder how they are going to measure benzos, I'm guessing it will have to be a blood test.  I must investigate this further.  I agree that some people function quite normally on benzos and will probably choose never to quite them whilst others are affected horribly.  Just seems to me the whole things needs more investigation rather than being rushed into law.

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[d7...]

LB- I am in Illinois, USA....benzo's are a controlled substance, I think a class 3 or 4. From my understanding, say someone who is on X benzo and is in an accident that they caused, they could be/would be charged with a DUI- driving under the influence. This is a great subject to bring up. I will research when I have some time soon laws in Illinois/USA regarding benzo's, DUI's and such.

 

The real kicker though...the prescription bottle does not say "DO NOT DRIVE WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION" but says "USE CARE WHEN OPERATING A CAR OR HEAVY MACHINERY"

 

 

One thing I know for sure, my doctor never said not to drive....in all honesty, I don't think it effected my driving significantly though.

 

Just Breathe

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LB- I am in Illinois, USA....benzo's are a controlled substance, I think a class 3 or 4. From my understanding, say someone who is on X benzo and is in an accident that they caused, they could be/would be charged with a DUI- driving under the influence. This is a great subject to bring up. I will research when I have some time soon laws in Illinois/USA regarding benzo's, DUI's and such.

 

The real kicker though...the prescription bottle does not say "DO NOT DRIVE WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION" but says "USE CARE WHEN OPERATING A CAR OR HEAVY MACHINERY"

 

 

One thing I know for sure, my doctor never said not to drive....in all honesty, I don't think it effected my driving significantly though.

 

Just Breathe

 

In Indiana you used to have to show ID to get them. Not anymore.

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I believe that a ton of the presriptions for benzos are of the take 3 or 4 times daily type.  These people wouldn't be able to drive at all!
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My bottle says (said) "take care if driving or operating heavy machinery", but the pharmacist didn't supply any additional info regarding the meds at all.  I questioned my local pharmacy as to why no warnings re addicition or the side effects of benzos are given out with the pills - she just stated it was not their responsibility to do so.  Well hell if my psychdoctor didn't warn me, my GP didn't warn me, the pharmacist didn't warn me, maybe a change of legislation regarding their non-regulated prescription is necessary.  Might be something I need to take up with someone in the future.

 

My psychdoctor told me about one of his patients who was on 20mg Clonazepam daily :D :D :D and he said this person was able to function normally and drive a car - now that really is scarey.  This person would definitely be in line for arrest if caught driving.  Personally I didn't believe that anyone could function normally on 20mg of C'pam, so was he telling me the truth, somehow I doubt it.  He was also the one who told me he "dropped a few benzos" whenever he travelled overseas so he could get his body clock functioning in the new time zone.  That's when the warning bells rang for me - not because he took a few benzos, it was the language he used.  Sounds a little like "street drug" talk to me.

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My bottle says (said) "take care if driving or operating heavy machinery", but the pharmacist didn't supply any additional info regarding the meds at all.  I questioned my local pharmacy as to why no warnings re addicition or the side effects of benzos are given out with the pills - she just stated it was not their responsibility to do so.  Well hell if my psychdoctor didn't warn me, my GP didn't warn me, the pharmacist didn't warn me, maybe a change of legislation regarding their non-regulated prescription is necessary.  Might be something I need to take up with someone in the future.

 

My psychdoctor told me about one of his patients who was on 20mg Clonazepam daily :D :D :D and he said this person was able to function normally and drive a car - now that really is scarey.  This person would definitely be in line for arrest if caught driving.  Personally I didn't believe that anyone could function normally on 20mg of C'pam, so was he telling me the truth, somehow I doubt it.  He was also the one who told me he "dropped a few benzos" whenever he travelled overseas so he could get his body clock functioning in the new time zone.  That's when the warning bells rang for me - not because he took a few benzos, it was the language he used.  Sounds a little like "street drug" talk to me.

 

I was up to 16 mgs for a while.

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Wow - 16 mgs, I was on 2mg at the start and was a living zombie.  How did you cope on 16mgs?

 

You wouldn't believe some of the reverse effects this stuff had on me. At that time I was the Layaway Dept. Manager at WalFart and it was the Christmas season. The store manager said that was the most orgainized Christmas layaway season she'd ever seen. However, I was mean and she was normally quite the b.... One day she was walking in front of me when I was trying to go back and get a package. I told her to get the blank out of my way! Too bad it was their last year for layaway.  My manager got in my face (he was no sweetie either) and I not-so-nicely handed him the Genimi and told him to go back in the layaway bins and shove it you-know-where. I found that my favorite word started with an "F" and had a lot of attitude packed with it.

 

Even before I became a Christian. Before I started trying to clean up my act, I never spoke to people like that. I never in a million years would have said that to anyone, especially not someone who fire me. Can you imagine how much nastier I was to my co-workers, friends and family?

 

Now imagine me driving like that. I could've taken road rage to a whole new level!

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Oooh I'm glad you don't live in my country.  You are starting to scare me now!

 

Hopefully post benzos the former Roberta will turn up again, maybe with just a little attitude.  We all gotta have that! :thumbsup:

 

I guess we should ask just how many road rage incidents could be related to benzos.  I know my patience was sorely tested many times and my brain sent words to my mouth that I would never have said prior to benzos. 

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This is a tough one, i was on benzos for so many years i have never driven without them  ::) i havnt attempted to drive yet so i wonder what sort of driver i will be :o
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Seems some people have no trouble while on benzos.  But then how many people are driving when perhaps they shouldn't be?  Who would know.

 

We've already had one proven fatal car accident involving a driver who was on benzos (not sure if prescription) - the family of the person who was killed by that driver were instrumental in lobbying to get the law amended to include benzos. 

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Wow - 16 mgs, I was on 2mg at the start and was a living zombie.  How did you cope on 16mgs?

 

You wouldn't believe some of the reverse effects this stuff had on me. At that time I was the Layaway Dept. Manager at WalFart and it was the Christmas season. The store manager said that was the most orgainized Christmas layaway season she'd ever seen. However, I was mean and she was normally quite the b.... One day she was walking in front of me when I was trying to go back and get a package. I told her to get the blank out of my way! Too bad it was their last year for layaway.  My manager got in my face (he was no sweetie either) and I not-so-nicely handed him the Genimi and told him to go back in the layaway bins and shove it you-know-where. I found that my favorite word started with an "F" and had a lot of attitude packed with it.

 

Even before I became a Christian. Before I started trying to clean up my act, I never spoke to people like that. I never in a million years would have said that to anyone, especially not someone who fire me. Can you imagine how much nastier I was to my co-workers, friends and family?

 

Now imagine me driving like that. I could've taken road rage to a whole new level!

 

This meanness you describe was a very good description of how I behaved prior to my taper.  I'd been this way for a couple of years before really hitting bottom. 

 

I also know of people who eat Xanax 2mg bars all day, and are sitting beside you at the red light daily.  One of them will even serve you at one of our local restaurants, slurring and all.

 

 

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The new driving law comes into effect on 1 November and there has been a bit of publicity on the news and in the papers lately.

Last night on the TV news there was an item on how the police are going to test for drugs (illicit and prescription).  Seems they will look at your eyes, how much your pupils are dilated - they have a series of cards with various pupil sizes to help them!

 

Also will do a "walk the line" test, similar to the old test for drunk driving and if they believe the driver to be taking some form of drugs they then have the power to do a blood or urine test.  Of course you can only be pulled over if you are driving erratically or have committed some other offence.

 

There has been a lot of concern expressed by the medical profession re their prescribing of benzos and how they doctors could be blaimed for prescribing doses too high to allow for a person to drive safely.  In New Zealand the law prevents us from suing medical practitioners but it seems they are still concerned.  Also a few concerns by people on benzos who believe their freedom to drive will be taken away because they are on benzos.  One lady wrote to the editor of our local paper stating how angry she was that she could be in danger of losing her licence because she was on prescription benzos.  She stated that she had high anxiety and was fighting agoraphobia and that her ability to drive was the only freedom she had.  I was tempted to write a reply suggesting that it was because she was on benzos that she had the anxiety and the agoraphobia in the first place - but she was obviously blissfully unaware of the dangers of the benzos.  How many others are in her position?

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i'm wondering what happens to these ppl? are they arrested? i wish them luck getting benzos in jail. idk how it is there but here in the usa getting your prescription meds in jail is like a joke! they do not care about you.

that will be a big wake up call if that happens to the benzo addicted who are arrested for driving while on benzos.

 

was tempted to write a reply suggesting that it was because she was on benzos that she had the anxiety and the agoraphobia in the first place - but she was obviously blissfully unaware of the dangers of the benzos.  How many others are in her position?

 

i know this drives me crazy. once you're out of it, it becomes so clear.....IT'S THE BENZOS!!!!!  i want to scream at these ppl...but i was them once not long ago. i know the blindness to it all.

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One lady wrote to the editor of our local paper stating how angry she was that she could be in danger of losing her licence because she was on prescription benzos.  She stated that she had high anxiety and was fighting agoraphobia and that her ability to drive was the only freedom she had.  I was tempted to write a reply suggesting that it was because she was on benzos that she had the anxiety and the agoraphobia in the first place - but she was obviously blissfully unaware of the dangers of the benzos.  How many others are in her position?

 

There are a lot of people like her. :(

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The new driving law comes into effect on 1 November and there has been a bit of publicity on the news and in the papers lately.

Last night on the TV news there was an item on how the police are going to test for drugs (illicit and prescription).  Seems they will look at your eyes, how much your pupils are dilated - they have a series of cards with various pupil sizes to help them!

 

Also will do a "walk the line" test, similar to the old test for drunk driving and if they believe the driver to be taking some form of drugs they then have the power to do a blood or urine test.  Of course you can only be pulled over if you are driving erratically or have committed some other offence.

 

There has been a lot of concern expressed by the medical profession re their prescribing of benzos and how they doctors could be blaimed for prescribing doses too high to allow for a person to drive safely.  In New Zealand the law prevents us from suing medical practitioners but it seems they are still concerned.   Also a few concerns by people on benzos who believe their freedom to drive will be taken away because they are on benzos.  One lady wrote to the editor of our local paper stating how angry she was that she could be in danger of losing her licence because she was on prescription benzos.  She stated that she had high anxiety and was fighting agoraphobia and that her ability to drive was the only freedom she had.  I was tempted to write a reply suggesting that it was because she was on benzos that she had the anxiety and the agoraphobia in the first place - but she was obviously blissfully unaware of the dangers of the benzos.  How many others are in her position?

 

The doctors need to be worried, they're throwing a short term medication at a long term problem.  They're prescribing medication in ever increasing amounts to counteract the side effects of the medication they're prescribing!  Maybe this will make them take a closer look at their common practice of over prescribing these meds!

 

Hey LB, I would have been tempted to write a letter too, classic benzo tolerance and withdrawal symptoms for that woman.  Get off the drug and her troubles will be over, plus she can keep her license. 

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I agree, the doctors should be worried - although as I said we can't sue, but they must still have a conscience.

 

At the support group I go to the two counsellors have told us that they have had an increased number of calls from people on benzos wanting to know the truth about these drugs.  They have also had their share of people phoning to blame them for lobbying (well they sent a letter to the powers that be) to change the law - again like the lady I quoted in my previous post - these people have their heads in the sand or simply just do not know about the effects of benzos.

 

There could be a bit of an influx of people around my town looking for help to get off the dreaded poisons post 1 November.  Unfortunately due to funding constrictions the support group's future in very much in doubt - amazing isn't it, I believe that with benzo prescriptions increasing in these tough times the funding should be increasing - not decreasing.  But then what do we know. :D :D.  Guess the moneymen know better. :tickedoff:

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  • 2 months later...

[quote .  I know when I was on 2mg of Clonazepam I felt very "drugged" and made the decision myself to stop driving as I considered myself a danger on the road.

 

?

 

hi

this a very sensitive area for me .i also do not drive because of the high anxiety,social anxiety and phobias  i drive a little during the last  10 years.

but now i need to start driving again i have a licence but i did not practice a lot i think i will have problem with parking and loud noise .i live in a very very crowded city with 15 million people in it.i wonder when i can start driving agin me kids is growing up and out of reasons why i do not drive

alexander

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Hi Alexander

I chose not to drive because I thought I would fall asleep at the wheel.

 

But during the early stages of my withdrawal fear took over and I gave up driving and it has only come back to me in the last six months or so.  I started by driving from home to the shops - I live in a small town so traffic is not a problem and we angle park in the main street.  I guess I'm lucky in that respect I can't imagine living in a city of 15 million - our entire country has just over 4 million!

 

Is there a block you could start by driving around - nothing too strenuous or challenging?  Start small and build up from there.  You may find that the energy of concentrating on driving again could take your mind off the anxiety and phobia issues.  My psychotherapist urged me to just attempt getting over my phobias in small steps - give it a try, but you've gotta keep pushing yourself.  It's not easy, but the more you do it, the easier it will get.  Good luck - you can do it.  I did.

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I am in the UK and was stopped 3 years ago for driving my mechanics car while mine was being fixed. I was at the end of my taper at that time and was on 5mg Diazepam and the police put me through quite an ordeal as I couldnt remember my insurance or driving licence details or the addresses they were reistered to. The policeman told me If i didnt come up with the goods then I would be arrested and the car impounded. I was in quite a state by then but we finally got the details sorted out and all was legal.

He then turned to me and asked if I was on drugs to which I said 'no'. He didnt believe me and so made me do a series of tests including pupil size, counting up to 20 in my head and walking in a straight line. When he was atisfied that I was not on drugs he turned to me and said 'ok, but theres something not right with you'. I had climbed down from 50mg to 5mg in a few months and I was completely confident that I was driving safely only I went to peices with anxiety during the ordeal.

The system over here I believe is that if you are found to be driving eratically and no alcohol is detected then they will perform the test which is either a mouth swab or a urine sample and no, they cannot detect how much of the drug is in your system just its presence which they would use as evidence for your 'Driving under the influence' whether you are prescribed or not although I doubt they would persue it if you were prescribed it as the evidence alone would not stand up to a prosecution.

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I know that when I first started klonopin, driving was still easy, but I found myself getting distracted easily (you have no anxiety so you dont care if you look away from the road as much) and almost hit cars a few times...I also found that my reaction time was delayed a little, and sometimes I found myself so comfortable (no anxiety) that I would do stupid things like driving way too fast, passing people like crazy, and just being plain stupid.
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  • 1 month later...

Yes, it is scary how they affect your driving.  I got in an accident at 4mg of xanax, my eyes kept closing.  It was an off duty cop - fender bender, he said he would let me go because he thought I was looking at something (and did not realize that) instead, I was falling asleep.  He told me to look at the road next time.  Very scary.  I stopped driving after that and as the dose went up.

 

Reaction time is slower as shared above.  Good for you to notice! :smitten: :smitten: :smitten:

Mary

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