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Heroin treatment: Cause of impaired driving in Pennsylvania?

No one wants to see their loved ones suffer, whether they are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction or suffering from car accident injuries. A push for reform regarding heroin treatment takes both addiction and Pennsylvania traffic safety into account.

In 2010, a 26-year-old driver (and recovering heroin addict) was leaving a methadone clinic when he caused a traffic accident that killed two unsuspecting motorists and injured another. He survived the crash and lived to serve as many as 30 years in prison for the crash that the criminal court found to be a DUI accident.

The defendant wasn't under the influence of alcohol. He had just gotten methadone treatment and was also on a drug that was prescribed for his anxiety. (Methadone is used by some as a legal means to get off of the illegal drug heroin.) Tests indicated that he also had marijuana in his system, though the defendant suspects that pot had nothing to do with the fact that, looking back on it, he was admittedly too impaired to drive.

He and his mother, as well as other critics of methadone treatment, argue that Pennsylvania authorities need to reevaluate the current regulations regarding methadone treatment and driving. Some medical professionals assert that the combination of anxiety medication and methadone, for example, can easily make a patient too impaired to drive. But that is a warning that many patients never hear.

The lack of such a warning for both patients and the general public leaves all vulnerable to the dangers of the current methadone treatment regulations in the state. The above-mentioned DUI accident, according to critics of the treatment and its threat to public safety, is not the only of its kind in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.

Worry and outrage over methadone-related accidents and deaths inspired the recent enactment of a bill that supports the creation of a Methadone Death and Incident Review Team in the state. Its job is to review the safety matter and come up with ways to improve methadone regulations if it sees that changes are necessary to prevent accidents.

We will post an update when there is a development in this health and traffic safety matter.

Source: The Morning Call, "Under the influence of ... methadone," Kevin Amerman, March 2, 2013

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