Tiger Woods’ toxicology report in regards to his May arrest suggests his DUI was caused by a mixture of pain, sleep, and anxiety medications.
The report released Monday revealed the 41 year old pro-golfer had the following in his system when he was found asleep in his car on the side of the road while the lights were on and turning signal was flashing: Ambien, Xanax, Dilaudid, Vicodin and Delta-9 carboxy THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Woods had undergone spinal fusion surgery weeks prior.
Vicodin is a narcotic made of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is used for pain and most commonly prescribed post-operatively.
Dilaudid is hydromorphone, a stronger narcotic.
Xanax is a benzodiazepine used for sedation, relaxation and to lower anxiety.
Ambien is a hypnotic type of sedative used for sleep and works within 15 minutes of ingestion.
Delta-9 carboxy THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
None of these medications are to be used while driving. Additionally none should ever be used in combination. The respiratory depression of one narcotic combined with the sedative effect of the benzodiazepine or hypnotic could cause death.
Woods entered a plea of not guilty to DUI, as alcohol was not involved and a mixture of medications was to blame, but its been reported a deal was made among prosecutors including a lesser charge of reckless driving and a stint in a “diversion program”.
Last month Woods stated he completed a private intensive program on his own.
On Monday he stated, “Recently, I had been trying on my own to treat my back pain and a sleep disorder, including insomnia, but I realize now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance.”
Polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications at the same time, can increase the risk of serious adverse events if the drugs act synergystically or mask side effects of one another.
Many overdoses occuring with pain pills may not always be a quantity issue with the narcotic but rather a mixture of the narcotic with another medication such as those taken by Tiger Woods. He was lucky to still be alive when found as were those pedestrians or drivers on the street that evening.
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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician