Driving after taking pain killers

I know there are websites out there where you can enter your weight, height, gender, etc then how many drinks you’ve had and it will estimate when you should be ok to drive. But are there any websites that do the same for medications?

Many meds have a “may make you drowsy, do not drive or operate machinery” disclaimer, but as far as I’ve been able to tell (reading the pamphlets, googling, etc), there’s no way of telling when you’d be ok to drive again. Now assuming you’ve taken some heavy duty pain killers, take an hour nap, wake up feeling fine… Can you drive or are you still likely to be under the effects? I’d assume I’d be fine the next morning, but not so sure after a bit of a nap. Anywhere you can figure out this info?

I don’t know about a conversion chart, but a major factor in determining if you can safely function in narcotic pain killers is your tolerance level. I have been taking high does of opioid pain killers for years and now they hardly have any effect on me other than killing the pain. Admittedly, I do feel tired when taking them, but not a sleepy tired. More of an overall feeling of a lack of energy.

Today I took 60mg of morphine and 30mg of oxycodone and I was able to drive without a problem. However, when I was first injured, a Vicodin would have me asleep inside of fifteen minutes of me taking it. My wife took a 5mg percocet and was out like a light.

I really think that tolerance is going to have such an effect that a chart might be useless.

Like obbn said, it’s going to depend on you. Tolerance for painkillers goes up very, very quickly. If I take two Vicodins right now, I’m not going to be able to drive (I’m not going to fall asleep either, but I’m not going to want to drive). If I take two every night, within a few days it’s not going to be noticeable. This is why people OD on them. Addicts end up taking A LOT of pills to keep their high. I’ve heard of people saying that they were taking 10-30 pills per day, that’s a lot of narcotic and a ton of Tylenol.

Back in college when we took these recreationally, we’d only do it once a week or so for exactly this reason. If we took 3 today, we’d have to take 5 tomorrow. It was easier to take 3 or 4 today and then take a few days so you could take the same dose again.
Anyways, IME, Two vicodins, no tolerance (that is, haven’t taken any opiate painkillers in at least a few weeks), I think I’d be fine to drive after 4 hours or so, maybe a bit longer. An hour isn’t long enough. You’d be ‘peaking’ (in drug talk) at that point.

That’s interesting, thanks. Tolerance levels didn’t even cross my mind (as I rarely take any medication). So, just too much variability in people to calculate then.

I did just take 30mg of codeine and rescheduled this arvo’s stuff anyway, so it wasn’t a ‘needs answer fast’ situation - more of mild interest of the time frame if I had to drive anywhere.
Thanks again to you both

always take your first doses planning not to have to drive (or operate heavy machinery) so that you can determine how the medication affects you - keep in mind that even if you don’t feel sleepy/dozy/loopy - you may in fact still be impaired for driving.

Same rule applies for OTC sinus/allergy drugs - while the package may say “non-drowsy” - don’t rely on that (the fine print will often still say “may cause drowsiness”) and ‘test’ how you will react to the meds in a given scenario.

FWIW - at about 90 minutes is the TMAX (maximum plasma concentration) for some opiates like oxycodone. It is also close to where the peak effects happen. So after an hours nap - and driving for a bit - you are actually at the worst place in the time curve.

As far as how you know you are safe - I am not sure - the impression I got was you would feel impaired - as some docs have said stuff like “don’t operate heavy machinery until you know how it effects you”. I don’t feel impaired after a Hydrocodone, but I do after a few drinks - and some sleep medications. Not sure how well that correlates with driving ability.

This page has driving info for heroin & morphine. Oxycodone & hydrocodone last a little longer than heroin:


Another thing to keep in mind, regardless of how you feel, the drugs will be in your system for a few days and if you get into a car accident and you end up getting your blood/urine tested for drugs OR if you get pulled over for something (anything) and the officer feels the need to give you a sobriety test that, for any reason, results in a blood/urine test, the pain killers will show up and you may end up with an OWI ticket.