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9.2.3 Opioid dependence

Opioid dependency includes patients taking opioid medication for chronic pain. People on stable doses of opioid analgesics for chronic pain management and people taking buprenorphine or methadone for their opioid dependency may not have a higher risk of a crash than the general population, providing the dose has been stabilised over some weeks and they are not abusing other impairing drugs.

The risk of impairment due to unsanctioned use of opioids or other sedatives is a consideration. Short-acting opioids, particularly parenteral forms, may cause fluctuation in blood levels of opioids, which would be expected to be incompatible with safe driving. People using these agents should be referred for assessment by an appropriate specialist such as an addiction medicine specialist or addiction psychiatrist.