New light on opioid and driving


Treatment-level medication less affecting than low-level alcohol. Nick Carne reports.


Opioid-based medication at prescribed dose low levels has only a mild effect on driving performance.

Opioid-based medication at prescribed dose low levels has only a mild effect on driving performance.

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The risks of driving with treatment-level doses of opioids in your system appear to be quite low but it’s still best to be cautious, Norwegian research suggests.

A study found that the influence of single analgesic doses of either methadone and buprenorphine was mild and below the impairment threshold of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 milligrams per litre of blood.

However, both produced some cognitive and clinical impairments and increased sleepiness – indeed, four of the 22 participants in the exercise stopped their on-road driving test because of drowsiness. Buprenorphine mildly impaired on-road driving.

”For the first time an actual on-road driving study has been performed to investigate the acute effects of opioids in drug-naïve persons on driving,” says lead author Maren Cecilie Strand of Oslo University Hospital.

“The results tell us that caution is required when initiating treatment with these drugs.”

No conclusions can be made about other opioids.

The findings are reported in a paper published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

  1. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bcp.13818
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