For many, perhaps most people driving is an essential part of their everyday routine. Whether it’s driving to and from work or school, picking up kids, or running errands – many folks drive every single day. For people taking pain medications to treat chronic pain, driving can become a serious issue. In this article, we are going to talk about how various pain medications can impact your ability to drive a motor vehicle – specifically if and when you can safely drive after taking pain meds.
Over-the-Counter Pain Meds & Driving Ability
It’s important to be cautious when driving on pain medications because certain pain meds can negatively influence your motor skills and ability to safely operate a car. So which medications are OK and which should you not drive while under the influence of?
As a general rule, you can safely drive if you are taking over-the-counter NSAID pain medications (ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, etc.). However, if you are taking these NSAIDs in conjunction with other meds or substances (alcohol or drugs), they may be unsafe. Ask your doctor about what over-the-counter drugs are safe for you to take with your prescription drugs.
Prescription Pain Medication
With prescription medications, driving restrictions are higher because they are more likely to impact your ability to drive. Prescription opioids (ex. OxyContin), which are often prescribed to treat pain, can lead to drowsiness and confusion. This can, in turn, lead to falling asleep at the wheel and impairment of motor functions.
If you are currently taking pain medications, ask your physician about any driving restrictions you may have and follow their instructions to the letter. If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash while on pain medications, get treatment for your injuries from a team of skilled injury physicians before you do anything else.