South Carolina car accident lawyer, Michael Jeffcoat, has been helping innocent victims who have been harmed by the reckless or distracted driving – including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – of other motorists for more than 15 years.
New research has revealed that drivers taking sedative sleeping pills face nearly double the risk of getting into a car accident as those not taking the drugs. A University of Washington research team found a greater risk for people taking Restoril, Desyrel and Ambien. For regular users of the sleeping pills, the risk continues for an entire year.
“Risks associated with sleeping pills have been known for some time, though this study shows some compelling real-world consequences,” said Michael Grandner, an instructor in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who had no involvement with the study.
Rising concerns of sleeping pills
The researchers noted the importance of doctors discussing the potential risks of sleeping pills with patients before prescribing them.
Concerns about Ambien have become so serious in recent years that in 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated lower recommended doses of the sleeping pill, labeling changes and a recommendation for patients to avoid driving the day after taking extended-release Ambien CR.
“This finding is shockingly not shocking. Sleeping pills are a huge problem,” said Dr. Christopher Winter, a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“This study screams that many doctors do not know how to treat sleep patients,” he said. “You have to develop a plan to deal with their sleep, not merely sedate them.”
Grandner noted that the first recommended type of treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, not medication. He said this type of treatment is much more effective and safer than many prescription drugs.
“If you have severe insomnia, you may wish to seek out an insomnia specialist who is trained to fix these sorts of problems without sleeping medications,” Grandner said.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a program designed to help patients identify and replace thoughts and behaviors causing or worsening sleep problems with habits that promote sleep. This type of therapy helps patients overcome the underlying causes of a sleep disorder, instead of simply muting it with a pill.
Sleeping pill use comparable to driving drunk
In the report, published on June 11 in the American Journal of Public Health, Ryan Hansen of the University of Washington in Seattle and his team reviewed prescription records and motor vehicle crash records of more than 400,000 Washington state drivers with a drug benefit under the Group Health Cooperative insurance plan. Participants in the study were monitored until death, unenrollment or the end of the study.
The most commonly prescribed sedative was Trazodone — an antidepressant used for insomnia — followed by Temazepam (Restoril) and Zolpidem (Ambien). All three are considered sedative hypnotic medications, but temazepam seemed to be attached to the smallest risk of crashes.
Researchers relate the risk of crashing when using these sedatives as similar to that of driving drunk.
Winter noted that the problem lies in Americans’ fixation on sleep and getting to sleep fast. He said people may not realize how addictive sleeping pills can be and that they can actually worsen the quality of their sleep. He said sleeping pills should be used to help people who have suffered a tragic event or those who need to adjust to a new work schedule, but usage should not become a regular habit.
South Carolina car accident lawyer
The Jeffcoat Firm urges South Carolina drivers to take safety precautions on the road and not to go behind the wheel if you’re impaired by sleeping pills, alcohol or anything else. If you’ve been injured in an accident that you believe was caused by another driver’s negligent driving — such as fatigued driving due to sleeping pill use — call our office right away to learn how The Jeffcoat Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve by filing a car accident lawsuit.