Q: My husband takes medication and sometimes has a drink with friends. Is it OK for him to drive when he mixes meds and alcohol?
A: Medications and alcohol, in combination with age-related changes, can seriously affect a person's ability to drive safely. Being a safe driver means being in the "know":
- Talk to your pharmacist. Read the package insert. Know your medication's potential side effects and drug interactions. Whether prescription or over-thecounter, if your medication makes you sleepy or disoriented, don't drive. Driving under the influence includes medications, not just alcohol.
- Know your drinks.
Alcohol is a drug, a depressant that slows thinking, breathing and heartbeat. A person can drink moderately for years without problems, but with age-related changes, it takes less alcohol for a person to feel the effects.
Even small amounts of alcohol, especially when combined with certain medications, can impair your driving. FYI - a 12 ounce beer or wine cooler, 4 to 5 ounce glass of wine and a shot of liquor contain the same amount of alcohol. A mixed drink may contain even more.
- Know your limits.
Changes with age mirror changes caused by certain medication. Vision, hearing, muscle strength, alertness, memory, coordination and healthy sleep patterns - all important for safe driving - can be altered by age and-or medication. Combined with alcohol, these changes are an unsafe driving mix.
Buckle up - it's your best defense against a drinking, drugged or drowsy driver.
"Sadie Says ..." is brought to you by the Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.