When discussing addiction to drugs like medically prescribed opioids, most people look first to the addicts themselves, and understandably so. With a valid prescription and approval from their doctors, people usually begin taking opioids without any ill intent. So it makes sense that most people addicted to medically-prescribed opioids receive a measure of sympathy.
However, another set of victims who need to be recognized are those who suffer serious injuries from auto accidents caused by those who are under the influence of morphine and other prescription drugs. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs, you are not alone.
The rise in prescription addiction
The label on your prescription is very clear. The side effects of taking opioid medications are not conducive to driving a car. You have probably already experienced the effects of taking your prescription, including any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty thinking
- Delayed reactions
As you can see, the symptoms for using opioid medications mimic the symptoms of a drunk driver. Additionally, like alcohol, opioids are highly addictive. This may be one reason why the number of prescriptions for drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone is four times higher than it was 20 years ago.
Over 300 million people now take opioids through legal prescriptions, and many of them are driving on the highways in Rhode Island and across the country. It's no wonder why there has been such a dramatic increase in opioid-related auto accidents.
Opioid victims are not just the addicts
Rhode Island is among a number of states that test the blood of drivers in fatal automobile accidents. Recently, researchers analyzed that data and discovered that about 25 percent of drivers who were tested following these tragic incidents had some addictive substance in their blood, and over 7 percent of the time, that substance was a prescription opioid. While that may not seem like a high percentage, the frightening detail is that the rate of opioid-impaired drivers has risen from 1 percent since 1995.
While your opioid is medically prescribed, the author of the study has reason to believe that most of the opioids were not under doctor's care and had obtained their medications through illegal means, as one may do to satisfy an addiction.
Victims of opioid-related auto accidents are proof that the dangers of the opioid addiction crisis go well beyond the risk of overdose.