Lithium, What's The Big Deal?

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Chris P.'s Comment
member avatar

I was digging through old posts from years ago on the topic of mental illness, and how that may effect my ability to pass the DOT physical or get hired. I don't take lithium, but I don't understand why it's always brought up as an example of something you can't take. It's actually an essential element, and you can buy it off amazon without a prescription. We all take lithium of varying amounts in our food and water, and scientists have found that places with higher lithium concentrations have lower suicide rates. For people that are bipolar, it's certainly going to make them safer drivers. Why is it always given as an example? Where did this lithium hatred come from?

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Where did this lithium hatred come from?

Science.

A quick Google search shows that a percentage of patients taking prescription lithium show impairment of motor skills. Not good for someone wanting to drive an 80,000 lb rig.

For people that are bipolar, it's certainly going to make them safer drivers

Not so, according to the studies.

It's actually an essential element
We all take lithium of varying amounts in our food and water

True, but these are only trace amounts showing no effect, not the concentrated amounts one would find in a medicine.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

I was digging through old posts from years ago on the topic of mental illness, and how that may effect my ability to pass the DOT physical or get hired. I don't take lithium, but I don't understand why it's always brought up as an example of something you can't take. It's actually an essential element, and you can buy it off amazon without a prescription. We all take lithium of varying amounts in our food and water, and scientists have found that places with higher lithium concentrations have lower suicide rates. For people that are bipolar, it's certainly going to make them safer drivers. Why is it always given as an example? Where did this lithium hatred come from?

Quite simply because one possible side effect of lithium as medication is dizziness. Any medical condition that has or may cause dizziness is a disqualifier for possessing a DOT medical card. Any person who is taking medication, whether by prescription or OTC, that has dizziness as a side effect is not eligible for a DOT physical, unless a doctor can provide a release stating that the medication in question will not have such an effect on that patient.

I learned about such things when I had to be treated for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo before getting my CDL. I was prescribed meclizine, which is a disqualifying medication for DOT medical card. So, not only did I have to undergo months of testing to eventually be medically cleared, I had to be several months removed from my last dose of meclizine in order to be cleared for my medical card.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

For people that are bipolar, it's certainly going to make them safer drivers.

I am not 100% sure that a person with a clinical bipolar disorder diagnosis can even qualify for a DOT medical card. I don't know, but this really has me wondering.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

For people that are bipolar, it's certainly going to make them safer drivers.

double-quotes-end.png

I am not 100% sure that a person with a clinical bipolar disorder diagnosis can even qualify for a DOT medical card. I don't know, but this really has me wondering.

Kerry (and all,) .. Here's a link from a prior conversation regarding same, from a few years ago. Susan D. (a mod here) has a great explanation, regarding her partner, and his medication for Bipolar Disorder:

I'm Bipolar, can I still drive a truck?

Another interesting thread: (Read Cool Joe's TL;DR . . . it's worth the read!) Career with Mental Disorder(s.)

You can also use the Wiki feature, on Trucking Truth, like so: What drugs are NOT allowed by the DOT?

Another, from a publication: If you take these meds, you 'might NOT' get a CDL . . .

Hope this helps a bit!

~ Anne ~

ps: If you search by tabs within TT, you will find these old(er) threads as they were brought up prior. ie: DOT Physical & FMCSA brought up that thread...also Medical Certifications.

pps: Kerry, hurry up & retire, then! Let's start a business, or work 'for' Brett, hahahaha!! (Inside joke....)

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Chris P.'s Comment
member avatar

Science.

A quick Google search shows that a percentage of patients taking prescription lithium show impairment of motor skills. Not good for someone wanting to drive an 80,000 lb rig.

You can find dizziness or drowsiness as a possible side effect in probably the majority of drugs. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take them. It means that, if you have those side effects, and they're unwanted, you move on to a new drug, or you weather it out and see if your body acclimates. For example, I am on a drug, Zyprexa, that made me very tired at first, but with long term use, it doesn't. I'm not seeing impairment of motor skills, but I do see that lithium can cause tremors, which would be unwanted. Again, that doesn't mean the people that don't have tremors shouldn't take it.

Not so, according to the studies.

Are there actually any studies done on lithium and bipolar people, and its effects on driving safety? I know the DOT did a study on various mental illnesses and their safety risks. People with mood disorders like being bipolar were at higher risk IIRC, so I wouldn't defend a bipolar person's right to drive a big rig too far. I would like to see them medicated, however. I was once told, by a therapist, that I had a mood disorder. My psychiatrist thinks it's ridiculous and that I don't. That's one of the scary things about being judged by mental illness, depending on the person diagnosing you, it ranges considerably. I've been diagnosed with an absurd amount of nonsense until I worked up the chain to a compentent judge. (my psychiatrist) I 'm not sure how it will effect my ability to drive. I have driven a car for over 20 years now without a single thing in my record, however.

True, but these are only trace amounts showing no effect, not the concentrated amounts one would find in a medicine.

Actually, it does not show no effect. It appears to significantly reduce the suicide rate. Anyway, lithium helps some people with depression so I've tried it. I didn't really notice any difference negatively or positively. It seemed to have no effect on me at all, and I think it has a lot of hate for no good reason. I know people that take it just because it's an essential element.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Where are you going with this Chris? Your post was about Lithium, and the ability to pass a DOT physical or get hired while on the drug.

Now you're turning it into a defense of mental illnesses. That was never the point, and not something I spoke to. This is about Lithium and driving a big rig, nothing else.

The science is there, just look it up.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

Where are you going with this Chris? Your post was about Lithium, and the ability to pass a DOT physical or get hired while on the drug.

Now you're turning it into a defense of mental illnesses. That was never the point, and not something I spoke to. This is about Lithium and driving a big rig, nothing else.

The science is there, just look it up.

I think it's because I brought up a thinking out loud point of whether a bipolar person would be able to receive a DOT medical card. Blame me for that part.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Chris P.'s Comment
member avatar

Where are you going with this Chris? Your post was about Lithium, and the ability to pass a DOT physical or get hired while on the drug.

Now you're turning it into a defense of mental illnesses. That was never the point, and not something I spoke to. This is about Lithium and driving a big rig, nothing else.

The science is there, just look it up.

Perhaps I'm getting a bit convoluted, but it's all connected from my perspective. A substance such as lithium isn't going to have the same side effects in every individual. I can look up any medication and find possible side effects that people probably shouldn't experience while driving. That doesn't mean they shouldn't take the drug/substance. I guess I have an issue with the judgment of those that make it their position to judge. How do I think about it? Well a bipolar person going manic shouldn't be driving for sure. Road rage, poor judgment, etc are likely. If lithium keeps that from happening, and the driver doesn't have side effects like tremors or dizziness, it's just taking away a valuable tool, and I resent that judgment.

Then I relate to my own position, and I fear how their judgment will condemn me, and I'm insecure about it. I know a lot about lithium already, and I see it far differently than truck drivers seem to. Am I an expert on it? No, but I've read a lot of studies, I've used it, and I've witnessed people I know taking it. I would wager I know a lot more about it than the people that condemn it in relation to truck driving. I could still bee wrong, I suppose. :P

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Where are you going with this Chris? Your post was about Lithium, and the ability to pass a DOT physical or get hired while on the drug.

Now you're turning it into a defense of mental illnesses. That was never the point, and not something I spoke to. This is about Lithium and driving a big rig, nothing else.

The science is there, just look it up.

double-quotes-end.png

Perhaps I'm getting a bit convoluted, but it's all connected from my perspective. A substance such as lithium isn't going to have the same side effects in every individual. I can look up any medication and find possible side effects that people probably shouldn't experience while driving. That doesn't mean they shouldn't take the drug/substance. I guess I have an issue with the judgment of those that make it their position to judge. How do I think about it? Well a bipolar person going manic shouldn't be driving for sure. Road rage, poor judgment, etc are likely. If lithium keeps that from happening, and the driver doesn't have side effects like tremors or dizziness, it's just taking away a valuable tool, and I resent that judgment.

Then I relate to my own position, and I fear how their judgment will condemn me, and I'm insecure about it. I know a lot about lithium already, and I see it far differently than truck drivers seem to. Am I an expert on it? No, but I've read a lot of studies, I've used it, and I've witnessed people I know taking it. I would wager I know a lot more about it than the people that condemn it in relation to truck driving. I could still bee wrong, I suppose. :P

Ultimately, shouldn't it be about what doctors who are trained to know what is and isn't safe to drive a CMV be the deciding factor. Outside of that is just noise. Why worry about "just noise"? I personally don't spend too much time worrying about public perception issues because it's largely driven by misinformation.

As far as it relates to your situation, I certainly understand because I had to go through a hell of a lot to get clearance from doctors to get my medical card, even after I was properly treated for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and declared fully recovered, I had to jump through hoops because I had taken meclizine for a while. For that reason, I am understanding of feeling like something can derail your career. You must understand that there are certain medications and certain health (and mental health) conditions where it is in the interest of public safety to not grant a DOT medical card. I am sorry, but it's better to err on the side of caution than to take a chance on when it seems like everything SHOULD be ok. Just not worth it.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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