Opioid Use and Driving Performance
Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine; School of Medicine
Cognitive Neuroscience | Emergency Medicine | Medical Toxicology | Musculoskeletal, Neural, and Ocular Physiology | Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health | Substance Abuse and Addiction
INTRODUCTION: The USA is in an opioid epidemic, with an increased number of individuals taking psychoactive drugs while executing the tasks of everyday life, including operating a motor vehicle. The pharmacology of opioids has been widely studied, but the effects of opioids on psychomotor function, driving performance, and the risk of motor vehicle collision remain less clear. Clinicians are faced with the challenge of controlling patient pain while also reconciling conflicting messages from the literature about how safe it is for their patients taking opioids to engage in potentially dangerous routine tasks.
DISCUSSION: This review assesses the current literature regarding opioids as they relate to neurocognitive function, driving performance, and accident risk. Manuscripts are categorized by study context and subject matter: controlled experimental administration, illicit use, prescription use, retrospective forensic toxicology, and polydrug consumption.
CONCLUSION: Illicit use, initiation of therapy, and opioid use in combination with other psychoactive medications are contexts most clearly associated with impairment of driving-related functions and/or operation of a motor vehicle. Clinicians should counsel patients on the risk of impairment when initiating therapy, when co-prescribing opioids and other psychoactive drugs, or when a patient is suspected of having an opioid use disorder.
Driving, Impairment, Opioid, Psychomotor, Vigilance
DOI of Published Version
Cameron-Burr KT, Conicella A, Neavyn MJ. Opioid Use and Driving Performance. J Med Toxicol. 2021 Jan 5. doi: 10.1007/s13181-020-00819-y. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33403571. Link to article on publisher's site
Journal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology
Cameron-Burr KT, Conicella A, Neavyn MJ. (2021). Opioid Use and Driving Performance. University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-020-00819-y. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/faculty_pubs/1920