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Recreational drugs and driving

What is meant by “drugs and driving”?

  • Driving under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol.
  • The drugs will alter your brain function, thereby affecting the control of posture and body movements. The levels of impairment vary from person to person.
  • These impairments slow down your reaction time and ability to comprehend what you are seeing.

What are recreational drugs?

Recreational drugs are drugs taken illegally for pleasure, for example ‘ecstacy pill’.

There are also some medicines used for treatment that are abused for the purpose of pleasure hence can affect drivers.

Some of the types of recreational drugs commonly used include :

  • Opiates
  • Opium, Morphine and Codeine
  • Synthethic opiates
  • Methadone, Dihydrocodeine, Dipipanone, Cextromoramine, Buprenorphine, Heroin
  • Cannabis
  • Hash, Sensimilla
  • Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA)
  • Ecstasy; (also known as “E”, “brownies”, “burgers”, “disco biscuits”, “hug drug”, “Rolex’s”, “Dolphin’s”, “XTC”)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Rohypnol, Diazepam (also known as “Roofies”, “Roche”, “Forget-me Pill”)
  • Anaesthetics
  • Ketamine (also known as “Special K”, “K”, “Vitamin K”, “Cat valium”, “Psychedelic heroin”)
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants
  • GHB (also known “Liquid ecstasy”, “Jib”, “Blue nitro”)
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • LSD

What are the possible effects of these drugs?

  • Alteration of perception.
  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Confusion.
  • Excitement
  • Drowsiness, sleepiness.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperactivity and anger
  • Lack of awareness or surroundings.
  • Over confidence
  • Panic attacks
  • Negative response

What causes the effects to be enhanced?

  • Taking alcoholic beverages together with the drugs.
  • Taking two or more of the drugs that have the same effects during driving.
  • Taking illegal drugs.
  • Taking new types of drugs.
  • Taking large quantity of the drugs.
  • Taking certain foods that can increase or decrease the effect of the drug.
  • Underlying medical conditions such as epilepsy (fit), high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Concomitant depression possibly due to family, health, income or academic problems.

What are the consequences of “drug driving”?

A person driving under the influence of recreational or non-prescribed drugs is at risk of :

  • Causing accidents which can maim, disable or even kill someone.
  • Damaging properties (e.g. vehicles, road, infrastructures, nature i.e. trees).
  • Being charged with a criminal offence, thus face fines or jail terms.
  • Being suspended from driving, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Living with guilt and trauma for the rest of your life.
  • Burdening family and society with court cases, rehabilitation, lost earnings, health and social issues.


How can you avoid such mishaps?

  • Consult your doctor regarding any illnesses that you have.
  • When you are prescribed with certain drugs, check with your pharmacist or doctors on the necessary precaution to be taken.
  • Read the labels carefully and follow the instructions properly. Check warning labels like “may cause drowsiness” or “avoid driving or operating heavy machinery”.
  • Look out for signs and symptoms linked with excessive consumption of the drugs.
  • Discuss with your pharmacist about alternative medicines that will not affect your driving skill.
  • Stay healthy and sober just before you drive; do not drive whilst still under the influence of certain drugs.
  • Stop your car and take a rest if you feel sleepy or drowsy.
Last reviewed : 23 April 2014
Writer : Ainul Salhani bt. Abd Rahman
    Siti Nurul Fathihah bt. Baharudin
    Hazlin bt. Othman
Reviewer : Atika Mahfuza bt. Mahbub