Prescription drugs addiction and DUI: All you have to know

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Personal Injury

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People were buying prescription drugs online in massive numbers as a result of the pandemic. Physicians used to prescribe drugs to patients after learning about their health conditions, other medications they were taking, allergies, and previous medical history. When you order prescription drugs online, the pharmacist on the other end is unfamiliar with your medical history. Do you believe he/she can provide you with a safe prescription that is appropriate for your health?

Consider what would happen if you used prescription drugs without consulting your doctor. A prescription drug is a two-edged sword. Your health problem will be resolved only if you take medicine as per the doctor’s advice. Taking it without understanding its usage and side effects can cause severe harm, permanently disable you, or even cost your life.

Taking prescription drugs more often other than chronic pain may end up in prescription drugs addiction or prescription drug abuse. Many people lose their lives every year to prescription drug abuse in America.

Moreover, you may end up in a DUI offense while on a prescription drug. Does dui include drugs? Yes. Do you wonder how? Read this blog to understand the consequences of prescription drugs addiction and DUI.

What are Prescription Drugs?

The pharmaceutical drugs that can only be obtained through a medical prescription at the dispensaries or pharmacies are called prescription drugs. Opioids, depressants, and stimulants were among the prescription drugs used to treat pain, insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is defined as taking prescription drugs without consulting a doctor or obtaining them from friends or relatives, taking them in forms other than the prescribed form, and in incorrect dosages. Some teens even use prescription drugs to get a “high.”

Taking prescription drugs in combination with other substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs is also considered prescription drug abuse, and it can ensue life-threatening consequences like prescription drug addiction.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

In 2020, around 9.4 million prescription opioid painkillers, 6.3 million central nervous system depressants, and 5.2 million prescription stimulants were misused. In the same year, approximately 17,000 people died due to prescription opioid overdose, and around 12,500 people lost their lives to benzodiazepine overdose, including Ambien, Valium, and Xanax. Students from 8th to 12th grade misused prescription stimulants (such as Adderall), tranquilizers, and opioids.

The period from March 2020 to March 2021 had found around 97,000 drug overdose deaths, which was 36.1% higher than the previous year. Many youngsters are addicted to prescription drugs for various reasons. Annually more than 12 youngsters out of 100,000 from the age of 15 to 24 years die due to overdose. Opioids are causing 71.76% of all overdose deaths. Prescription drug overdose is the second leading cause of death, followed by diabetes in America.

Research has shown that youngsters from 18 and 25 years are the ones who most abused prescription drugs. Around 30 percent of people who take prescription opioids for chronic pain tend to misuse them. Many of the prescription stimulant abusers began that while in college. Around 80% of heroin users became addicted to prescription opioid abuse in the beginning.

Side Effects of Prescription Drugs Addiction/Abuse

The common prescription drugs effects are as follows:

  • Mood Changes: One of the most obvious side effects of prescription drug abuse is extreme mood swings. The user may appear calm and composed one moment and then become grumpy the next. In the long run, their mood swings may get closer and closer together. This could be because they are becoming tolerant to the medication and require a higher dose to achieve the same effect.
  • Confusion: Because prescription drugs affect the brain, confusion occurs. Even with short-term prescription drug use, this can occur. The confusion may appear to worsen as the user uses the drug more frequently.
  • Loss of sleep/ more sleep: The way a person’s sleep is affected depends on the prescription drug being used. Some may cause the user to sleep for an extended period of time, whereas others may cause insomnia. This side effect may irritate the individuals, and they may resort to other drugs to treat insomnia.
  • Feeling dull and numb: Someone who abuses prescription drugs may seem to be slow at performing tasks or household chores. The individual may appear to be oblivious to what is going on around him or her.
  • Anxiousness: One of the prescription drug abuse’s most common side effects is anxiety. Anxiety makes the user appear unsettled, nervous, and anxious.
  • Hyperactive: Prescription drugs, particularly stimulants, may cause the user to become extremely hyperactive. Even for short durations, they may seem unable to sit still.
  • Appearance: When a person starts abusing prescription drugs, they may become disenchanted with their physical appearance and hygiene.
  • Overdose: One of the most common negative effects of prescription drug usage is overdose. Abusers are known to mix and combine medicines. Furthermore, a person’s tolerance to medicine may have developed, requiring them to take more or a higher dose to achieve the same desired effect. This can be devastating, even lethal, in some cases.
  • Suicidal Tendency: Even when prescription drug usage is closely managed, an unfortunate side effect of prescription drug addiction is that the individual feels isolated and vulnerable, especially if they abruptly cease taking specific drugs. This may lead to a tendency to commit suicide.
  • Addiction: The most prevalent negative effect of prescription drug usage is addiction. Most medications are highly addictive, particularly opioids, anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants. It’s impossible to get off this path once you have started. Users who try to do it on their own may undergo unpleasant prescription medication withdrawal and will almost certainly need to go to a detox clinic and then rehab to recover. Read more about opioid addiction in the blog on opioid lawsuits.

How to Prevent Prescription Drugs Addiction?

If you want to stay away from prescription drugs addiction, always try to get the drugs from your physician after consultation. Always follow the instructions for use. Never use a prescription for anything other than what your doctor has prescribed.

Prescription drugs should only be ordered online if the pharmacy is well-known and reputable. Many cases of unintentional overdose can be traced back to websites posing as pharmacies that fill prescriptions at a steep discount. Many of these drugs are counterfeit and contain lethal doses of a substance that the user is unaware of.

Never, ever sell or give away prescription medications even to your family or friends. Sharing prescriptions is risky as it may end up in death or other consequences like drug abuse. Always dispose of any leftover prescriptions properly.

Many pharmacies provide prescription drug destruction and disposal services. Getting prompt treatment on time for prescription drug abuse will save you from shame and failure. Prescription drugs addiction may cause psychologic issues like fear of failure, anxiety issues and depression.

If you haven’t shielded yourself from prescription drugs addiction, it can also lead you to face legal consequences while driving under the influence of your prescription drug. Is it surprising? Let’s analyze how prescription drug usage can be detrimental to driving.

Can Prescription Drugs Impact Driving?

Yes, even prescription drugs, can impact your driving. Do you have severe back pain and took Tylenol? Stay away from driving and better to take rest at home. This is good for your back and protects you from a possible auto accident as well. Some prescription drugs have more sedative power that they can impair the people and dangerous to the drivers who indent to be behind the wheels.

The drugs that can impair driving are as follows:

  • Antidepressants like Citalopram, Escitalopram, Fluvoxamine, Sertraline, etc.
  • Antiepileptic (Anti-seizure) drugs like Lacosamide, Clonazepam, Phenytoin, etc.
  • Antihistamines/ Decongestants like Diphenhydramine, Chlorpheniramine, Cetirizine, etc.
  • Diet pills
  • Meds for anxiety, like Benzodiazepines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain killers
  • Stimulants like caffeine, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine
  • Opioids like oxycodone and codeine
  • Asthma medications such as Albuterol, budesonide, and salmeterol

Can You Get a Dui For Prescription Drugs?

Driving while taking prescription medications is also dangerous and can land you in a serious DUI offense. When you hear the word DUI, if you think it is only related to alcohol or drugs like heroin and cocaine, you are mistaken. You may wonder, how can you get a dui from prescription drugs. But DUI for prescription medications is also equally punishable as driving under the influence of alcohol.

A prescription drug DUI is considered a misdemeanor in states like California, Texas, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin under “per se” laws on DUI.

Using some prescription drugs while driving can turn out to be fatal as they could make people dizzy, drowsy, and confused. They could feel blurred vision, shakiness, and be unable to concentrate or react on time under prescription drugs. While behind the wheel the person should be able to focus on various factors to maneuver the vehicle skillfully. It is better to consult the doctor if you could drive while under the drugs prescribed for you. If not, be ready to face the consequences of a possible DUI charge.

Don’t underestimate that you can escape claiming that you have only taken the medication for your pain. Some drugs may end you in DUI charges than if you are under the influence of alcohol. Now think about what will happen if you are under prescription drugs addiction. You cannot be without that drug, and being behind the wheel will put you under more DUI charges each time you drive. Let’s see the punishments you have to face for being under prescription drugs addiction for a DUI.

When you are caught on a prescription drug DUI, you will be asked to undergo a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration test) to determine your blood’s drug level. As discussed earlier, some prescription drugs are potent enough to make the breathalyzer beep.

Do the Penalties for DUIs Involving Prescription Drugs Differ?

The penalties for DUI charges for prescription drugs are more or less similar to that of drug or alcohol DUI.


If someone were to be convicted of a drug DUI or a prescription drug DUI, regardless of whether having a nonprescribed drug or medicines in their system or medicine that was not taken as prescribed, or whether the conviction was based on the prescription drug impairment, their driver’s license would be cancelled for a year with no ability to get a restricted license. After a year, the person must go through a lot of tests in order to receive his/her driver’s license returned.

Another distinction between an alcohol DUI and a prescription drug DUI is that an alcohol DUI always necessitates the use of an ignition interlock device. However, if in a drug or medication DUI, with the assistance of an experienced attorney, you can potentially escape from using an ignition interlock device in your car.

What are the Penalties for Prescription Drugs DUI?

In America, each state imposes different penalties for prescription drug DUI. For example, in Pennsylvania, a first time, DUI charge for prescription drugs would evoke

  • The sentences from three days to six months in prison.
  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Suspension of your driving license for a year.
  • A training course on alcohol and highway safety is being offered.
  • Adherence to prescribed treatment and medication evaluation.

A second time DUI charge within ten years will make you face

  • Prison sentences range from three months to five years.
  • A fine of $1,500 to $10,000 may be imposed.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one-and-a-half years.
  • Training courses for the Prevention of Driving Under the Influence.
  • Assessment of prescription drug use, as well as adherence to recommended treatment.

A third prescription drug DUI within the ten years may end you in

  • 3rd-degree felony.
  • Prison terms ranging from one to seven years.
  • Fines range from $2,500 to $15,000
  • Suspension of the driving license for one-and-a-half years.
  • Awareness and training for alcohol-related traffic offenses.
  • Drug testing, as well as adherence to treatment recommendations.

In Arizona,


Under Arizona Statute A.R.S. 28-1381, impaired driving caused by alcohol, narcotics, poisonous chemicals, vapor-releasing compounds, or any combination of these, if it creates even the slightest degree of driving impairment, it is punishable.

A first-time offender in the absence of aggravating circumstances, a drug DUI charge will be prosecuted as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Prescription medication-impaired driving convictions are regarded similarly as alcohol-related DUI / DWI offenses. Fines, fees, assessments, probation, drug addiction education, counseling, treatment, and other penalties are the consequences.

How to Fight DUI Charge for Prescription Drugs?

If you are charged with being impaired while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, you should consult an attorney to examine the state laws to see if a limited defense for driving while under the influence of prescribed drugs is available in your state. Most states allow this defense as long as you have a valid prescription and you’ve taken the medication exactly as prescribed.

In determining whether this defense is appropriate, your doctor’s instructions as well as the type of drug, would be of vital importance. However, knowing the drowsy nature of the prescription drug, if you took the car out for a drive, will never save you from penalties.

To wrap up, taking prescription drugs prescribed for someone else, or making it into a powder and snorting it or taking it in more than the prescribed dose, can lead you to a detrimental consequence like prescription drugs addiction. Saving yourself from the lethal drugs would even save you from coma or death.

Being charged for multiple felonies for prescription drug DUIs can make your future a question mark, and you have to be behind bars for a long.

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MedLegal360 is a specialized author in medical-legal matters, providing clear, authoritative insights on healthcare legislation and personal injury litigation for professionals and the curious.

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