Truck driving is a challenging career that frequently requires lengthy travel periods, which can cause driver weariness and drowsiness. Truck drivers are at risk for problems with their muscles and joints, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), not getting enough sleep, being exposed to diesel pollution, and getting lung cancer. Unstable work schedules, night shifts, and being away from family for long periods all add to the stress. High expectations for productivity and constant mental focus make people more likely to do dangerous things like smoke, drink and use drugs.
When given a lengthy journey, truckers frequently turn to medicines in addition to the caffeine found in a couple of cups of coffee to help them stay awake. While some drugs can be purchased legally and conveniently, others must be obtained illegally and pose a greater risk. Some of the illegal drugs that truckers use most often are opioids, stimulants, and cannabis. Painkillers like morphine and codeine are types of opioids. Cocaine and amphetamines are two stimulants that are used to give people more energy and make them more alert. These are employed to lessen discomfort, unwind the mind, and stimulate hunger. These substances can still be extraordinarily deadly and addictive even though they are legal in some states.
Many people believe that drugs available over the counter are safer than those obtained illegally; however, this is only the case when the medicines are utilized in the manner they were designed and per the accompanying instructions. For example, dextromethorphan is the main ingredient in many cold and cough drugs. When taken in very high quantities, it activates the same cell receptors as PCP or ketamine, resulting in similar out-of-body experiences. Ketamine also activates on the same cell receptors. The over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is most frequently abused to get high is dextromethorphan; nevertheless, even in small amounts, dextromethorphan can cause you to feel tired, lightheaded, queasy, and sick to your stomach.
Another over-the-counter stimulant frequently abused is ephedrine, which can be found in various over-the-counter weight loss products, including herbal and “natural” diet pills. Because of the stimulant effects of diet pills, truck drivers often take them to remain awake and alert when driving long distances. Ephedrine, on the other hand, has the potential to cause dilated pupils, anxiety, blurred vision, and a host of other unfavorable side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. This only serves to intensify the symptoms of tiredness caused by the drug.
In recent years, energy drinks and pills that improve energy levels have seen a surge in popularity among drivers who combat fatigue with over-the-counter drugs. This trend is expected to continue. They also contain ingredients that, when consumed in large quantities or used for an extended period, have the potential to have adverse consequences.
According to the findings of a recent survey that investigated drug usage among truck drivers, 21.3% of those who participated in the survey admitted to having used amphetamines in the past year. Amphetamine is a stimulant frequently recommended by medical professionals to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Other prescription medicines like modafinil and armodafinil, which are also employed in the treatment of narcolepsy, have been known to be utilized by truck drivers to stay awake while they are on the road. Prescription drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as Adderall and Ritalin, are sometimes used by truck drivers. These substances have a high potential for addiction, and the danger of adverse health effects significantly increases when used for recreational purposes without the oversight of a medical professional.
Truck drivers who use these medications incur the danger of crashing and burning, which leaves them worn out, less attentive, and weary due to a lack of sleep. This is the same risk associated with using medications that can be purchased over the counter. Despite the fact that drivers regularly admitted to drinking alcohol, alcohol was the substance that was identified in drivers’ drug tests the least frequently. This was the case despite the fact that alcohol was the substance that drivers commonly reported drinking.
Despite the fact indicated the substance that drivers ingested most commonly was alcohol, this was nonetheless the case. The authors point out that it is only sometimes possible to directly compare the surveys and drug tests conducted because they were frequently provided to different groups of drivers. This is one of the reasons why it is only sometimes possible to make a direct comparison between the surveys and drug tests conducted.
Comparatively, between 3% and 4% of drivers tested positive for alcohol, whereas only about 8% tested positive for amphetamines.
Modafinil and Trucking
Modafinil, is a drug that drivers of commercial vehicles are not allowed to take unless they agree to be monitored by medical specialists during the first six weeks of use. The driver may be able to keep driving if the treating doctor and the medical examiner decide that the medicine doesn’t have any harmful side effects and is used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy, sleep disorders, and rotating shifts sleep disturbances.
The driver won’t be allowed to take the medication and drive a tractor-trailer if it causes dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, impaired eyesight, memory problems, or chest pain.
If you take Modafinil as directed and receive the recommended amount of sleep, you should experience an increase in your ability to maintain attention. Modafinil, in contrast to stimulants like amphetamines or caffeine, which can make you feel energetic or joyful, prevents you from falling asleep. It is also said that patients with narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia who take modafinil report improved driving performance.
Treatment with Modafinil decreased lane divergence but had less impact on speed deviation, off-road accidents, and reaction time to a concurrent task. Modafinil similarly improved the subjective evaluations of driving skills. However, short excursions may have been affected by overconfidence in one’s driving ability. When it comes to driving performance under objectively reduced sleep situations, Modafinil has certain advantages. It may, however, cause overconfidence, indicating that further research is needed before using it to prevent tiredness while driving.
A dozen of the studies linked drug use to other lifestyle factors. Drug users were more likely to be young and inexperienced, to make more money, to have longer routes that often involved nighttime driving, to work for small or medium-sized companies, and to have previously been in an accident.