, Volume 187, Issue 4, pp 467-475
Date: 08 Jul 2006

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

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Abstract

Rationale

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.

Objective

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.