March 30, 2020  Last Update: November 12, 2019, 4:01 pm

This is Your Brain On Drugs (crashing your car)

Driving and antidepressants don't mix. Driving and benzodiazepines don't mix. Drugged driving is becoming a big problem.

Driving and antidepressants don’t mix. Driving and benzodiazepines don’t mix. Drugged driving is becoming a big problem.

A study printed in The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed increased risk of motor vehicle accidents among people who took three classes of psychotropic drugs: antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs (sleeping pills, prescribed for insomnia). It had already been established benzodiazepines effected driving abilities; however, the authors of the study examined how antipsychotics, antidepressants and z-drugs impaired psychomotor and cognitive functions as well.

In Great Britain, they refer to sleep inducers as “Z-drugs”.

Researchers compared motor vehicle accident information to out-patient medical claims for people 18+ years of age from 2000-2009 in Taiwan. Basically, after just one month of antidepressant, benzo and/or z-drugs use, there was an increase of motor vehicle accidents. This did not apply to those taking antipsychotics. For antidepressants and benzodiazepines, the higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of event.

For those on antidepressants and benzodiazepines, the higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of car accidents.

Do Not Take This While Operating Heavy Machinery

Prescription medications are dispensed with information on warning leaflets, but how many patients take the time to read them? How many can comfortably read the small print, or get through the dense language? And once you’re past um-teen explicit warnings of serious side effects that MAY happen, do you really need to keep reading?

We look to our doctors for help and guidance. We trust the doctor to care for us. Perhaps doctors could take more time detailing side effects of what is prescribed, and sort out the practical from the theoretical for us?

Common “z-drugs” and Benzodiazepines from

There are two main types of benzodiazepines. Hypnotics (eg flurazepam, loprazolam and nitrazepam) are mainly used to treat insomnia and anxiolytics (eg alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide and diazepam) are mainly used to treat anxiety. A different benzodiazepine (eg clonazepam) can be used to treat epilepsy.

Most benzodiazepines that are used to treat insomnia are short-acting (eg loprazolam). This means they are less likely to cause a hangover effect, which is when you feel the effects of the medicine the next day, than long-acting benzodiazepines (eg nitrazepam).

Z-drugs (eg zaleplon, zolpidem and zopiclone) are only used to treat insomnia. They work in a similar way to benzodiazepines, but tend to stay in your body for a shorter length of time.

The FDA lists common sleeping pills Ambien/Ambien CR, Butisol Sodium, Carbrital, Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, Lunesta, Placidyl, Prosom, Restoril, Rozerem, Seconal, Sonata.




  1. […] DUI traditionally meant driving under the influence of alcohol, but with the increased use of prescription medications, especially painkillers, and the legalization of marijuana in some states, DUI now includes “drugged driving” and other forms of driving under the influence of a substance. Some prescription drugs have been targeted for more research about their contribution to impaired driving. […]

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