I have spoken to various clients over the years of being a DUI / OVI lawyer in Dayton, Ohio. I have found some of them have mental health problems that are either undiagnosed or mismanaged. I have also seen people with known conditions that get worse over time. Another creeping problems is failure on the part of the patient to take medication as directed. This can mean that they do not take enough medication, they fail to take any medication at all, taking too much medication, or mixing prescribed medication with drugs and alcohol.
Sometimes they fail to comply with the doctor’s orders because they don’t want to believe anything is wrong with them. They get into trouble with the legal system when their mental health condition becomes overwhelming without the right medication. Sometimes I hear that they do not like the medication the doctor proscribes because they like the way they feel on something else. They use that logic to obtain diverted medication from sources off the street.
I also see some people wind up in the system through no fault of their own. They had 1-2 drinks and mixed that with some medication prescribed by a doctor. They are not under the influence of it, but they get arrested for driving under the influence because they smell like alcohol and are honest and admit to taking medication. Police and prosecutors seem to think that when a pill bottle says don’t mix with alcohol or operate heavy machinery that this can never be done safely. I have had medical experts tell me that their patients can safely drink and drive even on their medication if done so in moderation. They also say that people with bipolar or anxiety disorder will have trouble understanding field sobriety test instructions and trouble balancing under stress.
I have also been a part of a lot of success stories when a new client comes across my desk with one of these problems. Sometimes I am able to encourage them to go see a specialist who can give them a second opinion about their conditions if any and adjust their medications appropriately. Sometimes primary care physicians just do not have the training to deal with severe mental and substance abuse disorders especially when they occur all at once in the same person. I once had a lady with such terrible anxiety she could not stay seated during the initial consult in my office. She got up and paced around the room. After going to see a psychiatrist she was able to get on some medication and became a totally changed person. She was able to sit calmly and was able to stop self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.
While most doctors will say that mixing drugs and alcohol can be done safely, they do not recommend putting yourself at risk by driving if you can avoid it and only doing so safely once you know how you will react to your medication. Taking new drugs and mixing with alcohol will almost always end with you calling me for a consult. Stay safe this holiday season and talk to your doctor about your decision to mix alcohol or other drugs with your prescribed medication. If misfortune does find you please contact me and we will work together to put you back on track to leading a healthy and fulfilling life.