A decade ago, around two percent of the population in the United States used prescription sleep aids. Today, more than 3.5 percent of the population is taking some type of drug to help them sleep. This means that an estimated six million people depend upon drugs to get a good night's rest. Since between 10 and 15 percent of the population suffers from chronic insomnia, the increase in sleeping pills is easily explained by aggressive marketing of sleep medications in the past two decades.
Certain groups of people are much more likely than others to take sleep aids. For example, mental conditions such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder can affect sleep and increase the likelihood of needing a sleep aid. Medical problems that result in significant pain, such as osteoarthritis, can necessitate the use of a sleeping pill. Many of these medical problems affect seniors. In Florida, safety issues affecting seniors can have a big impact because 18.2 percent of the population is over the age of 65 compared with a national average of 13.7 percent.
Unfortunately, everyone who takes sleeping pills is at increased risk of becoming involved in an auto accident, but the risk is especially high for the elderly. When a collision occurs involving someone taking a sleep medication, victims can pursue a claim for damages if the accident was caused by impaired driving. A West Palm Beach accident lawyer can help victims to take legal action.
Risky Patterns Emerging in Sleeping Pill Use
Studies have suggested that a person who fills a prescription for a sleep aid has double the risk of becoming involved in an accident within the first week.
The risk are likely even higher for seniors. One Harvard researcher has advised that pretty much no one over the age of 80 should be taking a sleeping pill because of the added risk of dizziness, daytime drowsiness and cognitive impairment for seniors. Yet, around five percent of people over the age of 80 are currently taking drugs to help themselves sleep.
These seniors are already at risk behind the wheel. A total of 500 seniors are injured in auto accidents every day and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the biggest increase in accident risk occurs after age 80. Sleeping pills will compound this problem, especially if the senior is also taking other medications. Programs like Roadwise RX make it possible to enter information about all of the different types of medications that you are taking to assess the impact the drugs have on driving.
People of all ages should understand the risks that their medications present. In one recent study 55 percent of people who took prescription sleeping pills were also taking other sedatives and 10 percent were taking three or more different kinds of sedating medication including Xanax and Ativan. Drivers on multiple sedating drugs have a significantly increased chance of becoming involved in a collision and injuring themselves or others while driving impaired.
A West Palm beach accident lawyer can help. Contact David J. Glatthorn today at 800-990-9394.