Author(s): Leung SY
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Abstract ISSUES: Road crashes contribute significantly to the total burden of injury in Australia, with the risk of injury being associated with the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in the driver's blood. Increasingly, some of the most commonly detected drugs include prescription medicines, the most notable of these being benzodiazepines and opioids. However, there is a paucity of experimental research into the effects of prescribed psychoactive drugs on driving behaviours. APPROACH: This paper provides an overview of experimental studies investigating the effects of prescribed doses of benzodiazepines and opioids on driving ability, and points to future directions for research. KEY FINDINGS: There is growing epidemiological evidence linking the therapeutic use of benzodiazepines and opioids to an increased crash risk. However, the current experimental literature remains unclear. Limitations to study methodologies have resulted in inconsistent findings. IMPLICATIONS: Limited experimental evidence exists to inform policy and guidelines regarding fitness-to-drive for patients taking prescribed benzodiazepines and opioids. CONCLUSION: Further experimental research is required to elucidate the effects of these medications on driving, under varying conditions and in different medical contexts. This will ensure that doctors prescribing benzodiazepines and opioids are well informed, and can appropriately advise patients of the risks associated with driving whilst taking these medications. © 2011 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.
This article was published in Drug Alcohol Rev
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals