Under the Influence: How Opioid Use Impacts Traffic Accidents

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We’re in the midst of an opioid crisis in America. Because opioids are one of the more accessible drugs of choice, addiction to these drugs is increasing at an alarming rate–with devastating consequences.

Some of the latest statistics say that opioid overdoses cause more than 130 deaths in the U.S. each day. While deaths from overdosing are at a critical level, opioid use is also contributing to more traffic deaths.

Here’s how opioid use in America is driving up traffic accidents and what you can do about it.   

The Addiction

From mental illness to a trigger, addiction can happen for a variety of reasons.

Opioids are dangerous because the drug use can begin as a treatment for pain. They’re effective for pain treatment by lowering the number of pain signals your brain receives from where your body experiences pain. 

With opioid addicts, this pleasurable effect leads to continued use after the original pain has subsided. As your body builds a tolerance to the drug, you need more of the drug to achieve the same pleasurable feeling. 

The Effects

Opioids affect your body’s responses to everyday events. When taking opioids, you might have trouble staying awake, heightened mood swings, or a lower motivation for everyday tasks. 

When addicted to opioids, some of these side effects can turn into more severe or long term effects of opioid use. 

The Accidents

Severe or long-term effects of opioid use affect your ability to drive. 

According to research, in the past two decades, we’ve seen a rise in the presence of prescription opioids in drivers involved in traffic accidents. 

Opioid traffic accidents happen when the drug affects your ability to stay awake. Driving while high makes it hard to stay alert and in your own lane. 

The Consequences

Not all of the opioid-related traffic accidents result in death. However, some of these accidents do involve injury. You might also have difficulty staying out of jail or getting car insurance with a drug-related traffic accident on your record. 

The trending increase in traffic accidents caused by driving on opioids shows no signs of slowing down without some solutions to the opioid epidemic. 

It’s critical to recognize the symptoms of opioid over-use and addiction. 

The Solutions 

While we can’t “fix” the opioid crisis, we can watch for signs and symptoms and treat addiction.  

Look for symptoms including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Agitation or mood swings
  • Making Poor Decisions
  • Abandoning responsibilities
  • Slurred speech

One of the first steps toward recovery is stopping opioid use. When starting recovery for yourself or a loved one, find help for how to stop suboxone withdrawals.

Overdose Isn’t the Only Danger From Opioid Use in America 

Opioid use in America contributes to dangers on the road. Driving while using opioids slows reflexes and impairs judgment. 

Look for signs of opioid abuse. Reach out and offer recovery help.

But it’s important to understand that not everyone is ready to receive help. If you have a loved one who refuses treatment, check out our article about how to help.