, Volume 187, Issue 4, pp 467–475

MDMA and alcohol effects, combined and alone, on objective and subjective measures of actual driving performance and psychomotor function

Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-006-0434-z

Cite this article as:
Kuypers, K.P.C., Samyn, N. & Ramaekers, J.G. Psychopharmacology (2006) 187: 467. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0434-z



The party drug ecstasy is frequently used in combination with other drugs like marihuana and alcohol. In addition, a substantial proportion of the MDMA users has claimed to drive a car when under the influence of MDMA and/or other drugs.


To assess the effects of MDMA and alcohol, combined and alone, on actual driving performance and laboratory tasks related to driving.


Eighteen healthy subjects participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, six-way cross-over study. Treatments consisted of MDMA 0, 75, and 100 mg with and without alcohol, aiming at 0.06 mg/ml BAC. Laboratory tests (critical tracking task, object movement estimation task) were conducted between 1.5 and 2 h postdrug (0.5 and 1 h postalcohol). Actual driving tests (road tracking test, car-following test) were conducted between 3 and 5 h postdrug (2 and 4 h postalcohol). Subjects completed the addiction research center inventory (ARCI) and rated their driving quality and mental effort during driving.


Alcohol alone impaired critical tracking performance, as well as a number of actual driving performance parameters [i.e., standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), brake reaction time, and coherence]. MDMA alone reduced SDLP and standard deviation of speed. MDMA significantly moderated alcohol induced impairment of road tracking performance but did not affect alcohol impairments of car-following and laboratory task performance. Subjective data seemed to support objective data.


MDMA moderated the impairing effects of a low dose of alcohol on road tracking performance but it could not overcome alcohol-induced impairment on other aspects of driving behavior or driving related performance.


Actual driving performance MDMA Alcohol 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. P. C. Kuypers
    • 1
  • N. Samyn
    • 2
  • J. G. Ramaekers
    • 1
  1. 1.Experimental Psychopharmacology Unit, Department of Neurocognition, Faculty of PsychologyMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Federal Public Service JusticeNational Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC)BrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations