What Kinds of Drugs Other than Alcohol Can Affect Your Driving Ability

Driving is a very serious responsibility because you need to be able to drive from one point to another without making any mistakes to avoid accidents.

As you may already know, alcohol is a legal and widely consumed drug, while illegal or restricted drugs are considered a public health problem that impacts people’s ability to drive their vehicles safely.

So, the question is, what kinds of drugs other than alcohol can affect your driving ability?

Drugs that can affect your ability to drive are:

  •  Marijuana
  • Allergy medications
  •  Heroin and other drugs derived from opium
  • Cocaine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines

Can You Take Drugs and Drive?

No, you cannot take drugs and drive because driving when you’re under the influence of any drug is illegal in about 50 states in the United States and it’s a serious crime among drivers, especially young drivers.

Being able to take drugs and drive is dependent on the effects of the drugs that have been used or the drugs that are being used, the effect they have on the driver, and the tolerance rate of the driver. The amount of time drugs take to work varies for different people.

In some cases, it is possible that drug users don’t know the effects the drug will have on them. Most times, these drugs don’t have effects or better put, the effects are not visible as soon as the drugs have been used.

If you’ll be driving back home from any outing, probably dinner or maybe you went out with your friends after work, you should not drink and even if you have to, you shouldn’t drink too much especially if you don’t have a very high alcohol tolerance so that you can drive yourself back home safely.

If you eventually get drunk, you shouldn’t drive yourself back to your house. Driving under the influence of drugs can cause you to face serious consequences.

As reiterated earlier, some people could take medications without realizing what the combination of those drugs can do.

 What Kinds of Drugs, Other than Alcohol, Can Affect Your Driving Ability?

There are several drugs that can affect the driving ability of a person and these drugs may take longer than each other before they start having effects on the driver.

1. Antidepressants, THC, or Marijuana

Marijuana has a chemical that delta-9, tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC (this is what causes the drug to make them high)

Marijuana is a kind of drug that can reduce the effectiveness of a person while driving. It usually slows down the rate at which everything works, it affects the reaction time and the judgment of the person which is one of the reasons why it’s dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana

2. Amphetamines and Methamphetamines

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are those drugs that are not considered “drugs” by law enforcement officers because they are prescription medications that are used to treat ADHD.

They are also known as speed drugs and they stimulate all the sensory organs in the body and make the person feel more alert, awake, and very confident than they normally would.

They are not recommended to be used because they increase heart rate and cause the person to breathe rapidly.

3. Opiates

These are a class of drugs that can be gotten from opium such as heroin.

An opiate usually causes drowsiness and impaired judgment and sometimes they can cause constipation and diarrhea if the person doesn’t take enough food while using the drugs.

These opiates have caused more damage than each other but all of them are capable of causing some level of damage to the driving ability of a person. Imagine driving on an expressway after taking this drug.

Sleeping Pills

How in the name of God would you take a sleeping pill and drive? By the name alone, you should know how dangerous it sounds. Sleeping and driving have never ended well before so, never take a sleeping pill and drive.

Other Drugs other than alcohol that can affect your driving ability are:

  • Prescription drugs for anxiety (for example, benzodiazepines)
  • Anti-seizure drugs (antiepileptic drugs)
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Some cold remedies and allergy products, such as antihistamines (both prescription and OTC)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea
  • Medicines that treat or prevent symptoms of motion sickness
  • Diet pills, “stay awake” drugs, and other medications with stimulants (e.g., caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)

All of these drugs are highly addictive and if a person is found driving with any amount of these drugs in their system, they can be charged and prosecuted for driving under the influence the penalties range from fines to jail time, and sometimes when damage is done, they can get fined and still get jail time.

What is the Second Most Common Drug Used that Affects Driving?

The second most common drug used that affects driving is marijuana. Marijuana is a depressant, which means it slows down the response time of the drug user and their ability to think clearly. This effect can cause the person to make poor judgments and react slowly to anything that happens while driving.

Marijuana also affects the memory and concentration of the user. When the effects of the drug start kicking in, it becomes harder to think as fast as they normally do, and remembering things that have happened also becomes harder.

It is important for drivers who are under the influence of this drug to avoid driving while under the influence and if they end up behind the wheel, they should avoid using their phones, eating, or any form of distraction because of the effect that the drug has on their thought processes and memory skills.

How Long Does It Take to Affect Your Driving Ability?

How long it takes a drug to affect your driving ability depends on the type and amount of drug that you consume and the time your body system needs to process the drugs for use.

As reiterated earlier, these drugs have different reaction times in different people. Some drugs do not remain metabolized very quickly once they enter our bloodstreams, therefore any noticeable effects might not be seen until after the drugs have been consumed through food or drink products.

Dangers of Taking Drugs While Driving

The dangers of taking drugs while driving are:

  1. Get Sleepy or Drowsy: When the drugs that have been ingested make the driver tired, it becomes harder for the person to concentrate on what’s happening around them or respond quickly in the case of an emergency. This could lead to accidents because the driver doesn’t feel alert enough to drive safely or react appropriately when needed.
  2. Feeling Dizzy or Nauseous: These symptoms make it very difficult for the driver to keep driving because keeping their eyes open for long becomes very difficult and they also would not be able to focus well. This can also lead to crashes and fatal accidents sometimes because of the dangerous driving attitude of the drug user.
  3. Lack of Motor Skills: Marijuana users often have difficulty keeping up with the traffic laws when they are operating vehicles because it’s possible, that they don’t even know where they’re going. It is clear that driving while under the influence of drugs is very dangerous and illegal, it can also lead to serious consequences for the people who drive under the influence.


The main takeaway from this article is that drugs can affect the driving ability of anyone and you should be careful about drinking and driving especially if alcohol is already in the person’s system before or during driving.