In pain? There's a pill for that. Congested? There's a pill for that. Hungry, but don't want to eat? There's a pill for that. Sad? There's a pill for that. Hyper? There's a pill for that. Not hyper enough? Yes, there's a pill for that. Can't sleep? You got it. Take a pill. Just make sure you don't have anything to do or anywhere to be while you're under its influence. But... just how long is that, exactly?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, but more than a third of adults get less. Between 50 million and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation, according to the Institute of Medicine. In the elusive search for a good night’s sleep, at least 8.6 million Americans take prescription sleeping pills.
Back in 2013, the FDA required sleeping pill manufacturers to lower the recommended dosage of their drugs, based on research showing that the drugs remain in the bloodstream at levels high enough to interfere with morning driving, thereby increasing the risk of car accidents. Manufacturers were ordered to cut the dose of the medications in half for women, who process the drug more slowly, and were advised (though not required) to apply the lower doses to men as well.
A new study has helped justify the FDA’s warnings by determining that people who took Ambien (zolpidem), Oleptro (trazodone), or Restoril (temazepam) had anywhere between a 25 percent and three times higher risk of being involved in an accident while driving. Looking at the medical records and driving records of more than 400,000 new sleeping pill users from the years 2003 to 2008, researchers found that people who took Restoril had a 27 percent higher risk of being involved in a crash over the five years studied. People who took trazodone had nearly double the risk — 91 percent higher. Ambien users had the highest risk — they were more than twice as likely as non-users to have a car crash over the five-year period.
The study noted that the risk estimates were equivalent to blood alcohol concentration levels between 0.06 percent and 0.11 percent (the legal limit in all states for blood alcohol is 0.08 percent). It also discovered that the effect on new users wears off over time, suggesting that patients get used to the effects or compensate for them. Because these drugs stay in the blood for a long time, they can have a variety of impacts on crash risk, particularly slow reaction time to complex driving situations.
Drugged driving accidents often cause serious injuries because the inattentive drivers involved do not try to avoid or minimize a crash. It is common for a Florida drugged driving accident to give rise to a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. If you or someone you love has been injured by someone who chose to drive while under the influence of sleeping pills, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we have been helping people for over 45 years, and we can help you. Contact us today by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.