Advertisement

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 187, Issue 4, pp 467–475 | Cite as

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

  • K. P. C. KuypersEmail author
  • N. Samyn
  • J. G. Ramaekers
Original Investigation

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.

Keywords

Actual driving performance MDMA Alcohol 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Gert De Boeck and Marleen Laloup from NICC, Brussels, for analyzing MDMA blood plasma samples. We also would like to thank Kirsten Schuer, Lisa Willems, and Anita van Oers for their relative contribution to the study. This work was conducted as part of the IMMORTAL research consortium funded by EU grant GMA1-2000-27043.

References

  1. Barrett SP, Gross SR, Garand I, Pihl RO (2005) Patterns of simultaneous polysubstance use in Canadian rave attendees. Subst Use Misuse 40(9-10): 1525–1537PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brookhuis KA, de Waard D, Mulder B (1994) Measuring driving performance by car-following in traffic. Ergonomics 37:427–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brookhuis KA, De Waard D, Samyn N (2004) Effects of MDMA (ecstasy), and multiple drugs use on (simulated) driving performance and traffic safety. Psychopharmacology 173:440–445PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carmen del Rio M, Gomez J, Sancho M, Alvarez FJ (2002) Alcohol, illicit drugs and medicinal drugs in fatally injured drivers in Spain between 1991 and 2000. Forensic Sci Int 127:63–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de la Torre R, Farre M, Ortuno J, Mas M, Brenneisen R, Roset PN, Sequra J, Cami J (2000) Non-linear pharmacokinetics of MDMA (‘ecstasy’) in humans. Br J Clin Pharmacol 49:104–109PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. de la Torre R, Farre M, Roset PN, Pizarro N, Abanades S, Segura M, Segura J, Cami J (2004) Human pharmacology of MDMA: pharmacokinetics, metabolism, and disposition. Ther Drug Monit 26:137–144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. de Wit H, Crean J, Richards JB (2000) Effects of d-amphetamine and ethanol on a measure of behavioral inhibition in humans. Behav Neurosci 114:830–837PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haertzen CA (1965) Addiction Research Center Inventory (ARCI): development of a general drug estimation scale. J Nerv Ment Dis 141:300–307PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Henry JA (1992) Ecstasy and the dance of death. BMJ 305:5–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Henry JA, Jeffreys KJ, Dawling S (1992) Toxicity and deaths from 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”). Lancet 340:384–387PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hernandez-Lopez C, Farre M, Roset PN, Menoyo E, Pizarro N, Ortuno J, Torrens M, Cami J, de la Torre R (2002) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) and alcohol interactions in humans: psychomotor performance, subjective effects, and pharmacokinetics. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 300:236-244PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jex HR, McDonnell JD, Phatak AV (1966) A “critical” tracking task for man-machine research related to the operator’s effective delay time. I. Theory and experiments with a first-order divergent controlled element. NASA CR-616. NASA Contract Rep NASA CR: 1–105Google Scholar
  13. Lamers CT, Ramaekers JG, Muntjewerff ND, Sikkema KL, Samyn N, Read NL, Brookhuis KA, Riedel WJ (2003) Dissociable effects of a single dose of ecstasy (MDMA) on psychomotor skills and attentional performance. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford, England) 17:379–387Google Scholar
  14. Logan BK, Couper FJ (2001) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) and driving impairment. J Forensic Sci 46:1426–1433PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Mas M, Farre M, de la Torre R, Roset PN, Ortuno J, Segura J, Cami J (1999) Cardiovascular and neuroendocrine effects and pharmacokinetics of 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine in humans. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 290:136–45PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. O’Hanlon JF (1984) Driving performance under the influence of drugs: rationale for, and application of, a new test. BJCP Br J Clin Pharmacol 18(Suppl 1):121s–129sGoogle Scholar
  17. Parrott AC (2004) Is ecstasy MDMA? A review of the proportion of ecstasy tablets containing MDMA, their dosage levels, and the changing perceptions of purity. Psychopharmacology 173:234–241PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ramaekers JG, Kuypers KP (2006) Acute effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on behavioral measures of impulsivity: alone and in combination with alcohol. Neuropsychopharmacology Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 31:1048–1055PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Ramaekers JG, Kuypers KPC, Samyn N (2006) Stimulant effects of MDMA 75 mg and methylphenidate 20 mg on actual driving during intoxication and withdrawal. Addiction (in press)Google Scholar
  20. Ramaekers JG, Robbe HWJ, O’Hanlon JF (2000) Marijuana, alcohol and actual driving performance. Hum Psychopharmacol 15:551–558PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Read N, Ward N, Parkes A (2000) The role of dynamic tests in assessing the fitness to drive of healthy and cognitively impaired elderly. J Traffic Med 28:34S–35SGoogle Scholar
  22. Riley SC, James C, Gregory D, Dingle H, Cadger M (2001) Patterns of recreational drug use at dance events in Edinburgh, Scotland. Addiction (Abingdon, England) 96:1035–1047Google Scholar
  23. Schifano F (1995) Dangerous driving and MDMA (“ecstasy”) abuse. Journal Serotonin Res 1:53–57Google Scholar
  24. Topp L, Hando J, Dillon P, Roche A, Solowij N (1999) Ecstasy use in Australia: patterns of use and associated harm. Drug Alcohol Depend 55:105–115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. World Medical Organization. Declaration of Helsinki. Br Med J (7 December) 1996;313(7070):1448–1499Google Scholar
  26. Zijlstra F (1993) Efficiency in work behavior. A design approach for modern tools. University of Technology, Delft, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. P. C. Kuypers
    • 1
    Email author
  • 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