More Driving After Taking Dangerous Drug-AZ

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More Driving After Taking Dangerous Drug-AZ

Postby mjhaynes on Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:24 pm

More Driving After Taking Dangerous Drug

POSTED: 10:01 am MST November 18, 2008
UPDATED: 10:28 am MST November 18, 2008

PHOENIX -- The Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix is full of people arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, but police say a growing number of inmates are arrested on charges of driving under the influence of a legal narcotic.

Tim Gaffney of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said police are stopping more people who are driving under the influence of methadone, a cheap, long-lasting narcotic best known as the drug used to treat recovering heroin addicts.

"On a nightly basis we'll see people using methadone, and unfortunately they're not just going to the methadone clinics," said Gaffney. "They're following it up by using heroin, Oxycontin, using Percocet."

Arizona is a magnet for methadone addicts, police say, because the state has many clinics; however, many of the people do have prescriptions for the drug.

Though it is legal to drive under the influence of methadone with a prescription, it is against the law to drive while impaired.

"I don't recommend that people drive on methadone," said Dr. Jeff Bucholz. "Sometimes (patients) think they are just fine. They're not aware their reflexes may be slower, or their judgment may not be quite what it used to be."

Bucholz is a pain specialist who prescribes the drug to patients with extreme pain -- such as those with cancer or nerve damage.

"One milligram of methadone is about equal in strength to one Vicodin tablet, and the minimum tablet strength of methadone is five (milligrams)," he said.

Clinics typically prescribe 10 to 300 milligrams per dose of methadone -- equal to 10 to 300 Vicodin tablets.

Patients are not prohibited from driving after taking methadone, and some argue there should be more oversight.

The Arizona Department of Health regulates methadone clinics, but it says inspectors only visit the clinics once a year, unless a complaint is filed. This year, the department has only received one complaint, and in the last seven years, only one clinic has been shut down.

Previous Story:
July 23, 2008: Methadone A Growing Problem In Valley
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Pro-methadone BS again....

Postby Moonmagic on Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:34 pm

[i] THis is the reply left by the well known Kerry Wolf aka Zenith who advocates against ALL negative writings of Methadone.

0 points Show Anyway kerry wolf commented 3 hours 22 minutes ago
Comparing vicodin tablets to methadone re: driving in the way this article did is simply calculated to give rise to false cause for alarm. Vicodin also contains acetominophen, and is therefore never prescribed in doses larger than 5-20mgs (5-10 for Vicodin and 10-20 for Norco) due to the toxic effect of tylenol on the liver. When larger doses of an opioid drug are needed they use a formulation, such as methadone, morphine, etc that has no acetominophen in it.

Secondly, if a patient in a hospital is gone narcotic drugs and then released, they must have a driver--why? Because they are not tolerant to the medication. With methadone, most people starting treatment are already highly tolerant to opioid drugs, and it takes only a short time to become tolerant to methadone (which causes no high or euphoria in stable tolerant patients), and they may then drive safely. As the above poster said, if we deny methadone patients driving privileges (even though the report here states that

If a patient is MIXING drugs, it is NOT safe to drive. In accidents where methadone was involved it is almost always either other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, were taken, or the person was taking methadone not prescribed to them.

There is a reason why the stickers on the medicine bottle and the handouts they give at the pharmacy say "Do not drive until you know how this medication affects you". Taking away driving privileges from perfectly competent drivers simply because a few take other drugs and have accidents makes no sense.

[b]The pro-methadone advocates continue to make excuses and minimize the epidemic of this drug even when it comes to the thousands that are dying yearly. Their image that has been painted for years now is fading and the real truth is coming through....The article posted above this is the REALITY of methadone and it is far from being a pretty picture as the user's claim.

0 points Show Anyway labrat commented 4 hours 24 minutes ago
Such a bias! People going to methadone clinics or on pain management methadone have been on stablized doses: meaning they don't feel or act the effects a naive user might.

The reason why there is no "oversight" is because it's been proven over and over that people on MAINTENANCE doses of methadone are able to drive, work and raise families without influence! Do some research the next time you decide to run a story!

If someone is obviously intoxicated arrest them-but don't assume that they can't drive! Unless we want to start taking away drivers licenses for people on anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, pain medications and sleeping pills too! This is supposed to be America people!

My Comment to Labrat is: Yes, this is America and everyone has rights not just Methadone User's, get out of the fog!!!![/i]
In Loving Memory of my son:
Aug. 15, 1981 - June 11, 2006
Killed by Methadone & a Doctor
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address the issue of driving under the influence of methadon

Postby mjhaynes on Thu Nov 20, 2008 6:41 am

PHOENIX -- Lawmakers vowed Tuesday to address the issue of driving under the influence of methadone.

After watching a 5 Investigates video about the dangerous combination of driving and the drug, Arizona state Sen. Jim Waring said he would bring the issue in front of the state Legislature in 2009.

"There possibly is a loophole (in the law) regarding methadone, and I'd certainly be happy to address it," he said.

The loophole? Driving under the influence of methadone is legal if the driver has a prescription; however, it is illegal to drive while impaired.

"I certainly think we could make it harder to get methadone," Waring said. "We could certainly make it come down tougher on people who cause accidents under the influence now."

Methadone is most commonly known as a drug used to treat heroin addiction; however, it is also used to treat extreme pain.

According to Dr. Jeff Bucholz, a pain specialist, one milligram of methadone is about equal in strength to one Vicodin tablet. The smallest dose available is five milligrams, and clinics typically prescribe between 10 and 300 milligrams per dose.

"(Patients) are not aware their reflexes may be slower" after taking the drug, Bucholz said.

After viewing the video, state Sen. Linda Gray and lawmaker Kyrsten Sinema also said they would consider the issue during the next legislative session.

The 5 Investigates video told the story of five cheerleaders whose car was hit head-on by a driver who had taken methadone. They were seriously injured.

"I hear those stories all too often, and it's really very painful," Waring said. "We need to do something about it."
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