Publications & Reports

Driving under the influence among frequent ecstasy consumers in Australia: Trends over time and the role of risk perceptions.

Matthews AJ, Bruno R, Dietze P, Butler K, Burns L
School of Medicine (Psychology), University of Tasmania, Private Bag 30, Hobart 7000, TAS, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and illicit drugs is a serious road safety concern. This research aimed to examine trends in DUI across time and changes in attitudes towards the risks (crash and legal) associated with DUI among regular ecstasy users (REU) interviewed in Australia. METHODS: Participants were regular (at least monthly) ecstasy users surveyed in 2007 (n=573) or 2011 (n=429) who had driven a car in the last six months. Face to face interviews comprised questions about recent engagement of DUI and roadside breath (alcohol) and saliva (drug) testing. Participants also reported the risk of crash and of being apprehended by police if DUI of alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. RESULTS: There were significant reductions in DUI of psychostimulants (ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD) but not alcohol or cannabis between 2007 and 2011. This was accompanied by increased experience of roadside saliva testing and increases in crash and legal risk perceptions for ecstasy and methamphetamine, but not alcohol or cannabis. When the relationship between DUI and risk variables was examined, low crash risk perceptions were associated with DUI of all substances and low legal risk perceptions were associated with DUI of ecstasy. CONCLUSIONS: The observed reduction in DUI of psychostimulants among frequent ecstasy consumers may be related to increased risk awareness stemming from educational campaigns and the introduction of saliva testing on Australian roads. Such countermeasures may be less effective in relation to deterring or changing attitudes towards DUI of cannabis and alcohol among this group.


  • Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence
  • Published: 01/10/2014
  • Volume: 144
  • Pagination: 218-224