Article Text

Download PDFPDF
PW 1659 Methadone in oral fluid of spanish drivers
  1. Francisco Herrera-Gómez1,
  2. Mercedes García-Mingo1,
  3. Mónica Colás2,
  4. Juan Carlos González-Luque2,
  5. M Carmen del Río1,
  6. F Javier Álvarez1
  1. 1Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Valladolid
  2. 2Dirección General de Tráfico, Madrid, Spain


Background Some drugs impair tasks related to driving, and roadside drug testing remains an important tool for deterring driving under the influence of them.

Objective To assess the presence and concentration of methadone, and their combined use with other drugs (laboratory confirmation after the on-road screening) in Spanish drivers between 2011–2016.

Methods In Spain, roadside mandatory drug testing using saliva are carried out by the Traffic Police using Dräger DrugTest® 5000, DrugWipe®, or Alere™ DDS®2 Mobile Test System. For positive cases in the period covered, 65244, confirmation analysis and quantification of methadone using chromatographic techniques were performed. Statistical analysis was carried out with R programming language (3.4.1) and SPSS version 23.0.

Findings Methadone was confirmed in 4.1% of positive cases: these tested also positive to 6-acetylmorphine (heroin metabolite, 81.9%) and other illicit drugs, such as cocaine (80%) and cannabis (45%). Only in a minority of methadone positives (0.4%) cases no other substances were detected. Concentration values reached important levels (median 201.4 ng/mL) and there was a relationship with age (R-squared=0.1475, p<0.005).

Conclusions Poly drug use (heroin, cocaine, cannabis) was the rule in drivers with methadone positive confirmation analyses.

Policy implications As methadone is a physician prescribed medication, improving opioid prescription, promoting the use of less driving-impairing medications, and giving more clear information to patients (risk communication) is a need.

This work was supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Redes Temáticas de Investigación Cooperativa, Red de Trastornos Adictivos [grant RD16/0017/0006], co-funded by FEDER funds of the European Union: a way to build Europe.

  • methadone
  • oral-fluid
  • roadside-drug-testing

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.