Adderall in Sports


| 6 Comments
As college students, we have all come accustomed to the culture of adderall on college campuses.  Although it is a schedule II drug by the US DEA and illegal to possess without a prescription, students do not view it the same as they do other prescription drugs.  Adderall is most frequently prescribed to students with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to help them focus.  We normally hear about students using it to focus on homework or studying for exams.  Only recently have we heard of people using adderall to gain a competitive advantage on the playing field.

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image source: http://jspielvogel.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/a_adderall_021.jpg

Rick Figler, a sports medicine physician said, "In a sports setting, it parlays into an increased ability to workout harder. Or if they're going through testing to perform testing better; if they're studying a playbook to memorize the playbook. It's absolutely a performance-enhancing drug."
 
According to Fox Sports, at least 7 NFL players have been suspended due to adderall use.  However, there is no way of knowing if this figure is true.  In the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA (Player's union), the NFL is not permitted to release the details of failed drug tests.  Certain players like Channing Crowder claim players are hiding behind adderall "Honestly, I think adderall is an excuse.  Now if you get busted, you just say it's adderall and it goes under the rug.  The league can't come out and correct you.  It's better than coming out and saying you did steroids.  It's kind of like getting busted for cocaine, but telling your grandma it was marijuana.  Marijuana is more socially acceptable."

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image source: http://sports.cbsimg.net/u/photos/football/nfl/img20594380.jpg

Part of me thinks that people would not be taking adderall if they did not feel it offered some advantage.  However, the bottom-line is adderall by no means makes you run faster, jump higher or grow larger muscles.  I see it as a way for athletes to hide behind other drugs that they are taking.  I don't get the whole "it can help you focus in a game" argument.  If there are 200-300 plus pound men running at me, I'm going to be focused.  Do you see adderall as a performance enhancer? Or do you believe athletes are using it as a disguise for something else?

"Adderall: NFL's New, Trendy PED." FOX Sports. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.

Battista, Judy. "Adderall, a Drug of Increased Focus for N.F.L. Players." The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Dec. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.

6 Comments

I agree, I don't think professional athletes are going to need adderall to keep their heads in the game. If they can't focus when they're in the middle of game then perhaps they need to have their heads evaluated instead of just popping in a pill that is meant for people who suffer from ADHD. With the extreme effects that Adderall can have, include: phonetic tics, high blood pressure, rapid pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, hallucinations, Tourette's syndrome, and cardiomyopathy. Amphetamines like Adderall can impair judgment and the ability to engage in potentially hazardous activities like operating machinery, vehicles and sports participation. So why would they risk their career to just "memorize a playbook"?
PrescriptionAbuse.Org reports that "tolerance, extreme psychological dependence, and severe social disability have occurred. There are reports of patients who have increased the dosage to many times that which is recommended. Abrupt cessation following prolonged high dosage administration results in extreme fatigue and mental depression; changes are also noted on the sleep EEG. Manifestations of chronic intoxication with amphetamines include severe dermatoses, marked insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, and personality changes. The most severe manifestation of chronic intoxication is psychosis, often clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia."

These athletes need to really look into the potential hazards.

Source: http://www.prescriptiondrugabuse.org/Effects-of-Adderall-Abuse.htm

I do understand what you guys are saying about how Adderall isn't as performance enhancing as steroids. I do however believe that Adderall could definitely give players an advantage on the field. NFL player Anthony Beck tells a story in this article in the New York Times about a teammate who said with regards to Adderall, "You've got to get some of these. When I take them, my focus is just raised up to another level." Obviously, if a player is raving about the drug like that, then it has some effects. Though Adderall won't make a person run faster or jump higher, it will increase his focus and awareness. Adderall has the ability to keep players on it super concentrated and alert and have an advantage over players not taking the pill. I realize that Adderall is not as severe as other drugs taken by professional athletes, and I realize it can be used as a cover up for more serious drugs, but I definitely think it should be banned from sports because of the mental advantage it provides to users.

I think I might have messed up in the comment above, but here is the url of the source I used for the quote: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/sports/football/adderall-a-drug-of-increased-focus-for-nfl-players.html?pagewanted=all

Even after thinking it over again, a professional athlete getting paid millions of dollars should not need a pill to focus. In the NFL every single play could be your last. If you're head is not in the game when you could potentially face a life changing injury, you shouldn't be on the field. In the NHL if you put your head down for even half a second you're gonna be counting the lights in the rink. I feel the focus argument is absolutely flawed in this case.

I don't know enough about the drug to know for sure, but it was always my understanding that Aderall was used to help someone focus mentally. Until this week when I saw your blog post and another post on a similar topic, I was unaware that athletes were trying to make the case that Aderall improved their ability to focus on the field.

I think that you could argue that it may be beneficial when trying to "get in the zone" or get mentally prepared before a game. As a former athlete, there were many times where my nerves before a big game would be pretty overwhelming. However, I agree with your argument about being able to focus when a "300 pound man" is running at you. No matter how nervous I was before a game, the minute the clock started and the whistle blew, all of my nerves went away and I was in the moment. By that logic, I don't see how Aderall would make that much of a difference while the game is actually happening.

This article begs to differ. The opinions in this article (see link here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-400_162-57556413/adderall-nfls-popular-new-drug-or-easy-alibi/ ) say that some experts believe that Aderall helps DURING game play because it slows everything down and makes things easier to process and therefore makes it easier for the user to focus. Like I said, not sure that I know enough about the drug to attest to whether or not it has that effect.

Does anyone know if Aderall is addictive? I'd be interested to see if someone can be physically dependent on it if they were to use it, say, before a game every Sunday?

I think this is a terrific blog! Being a sportsman, I am always interested in reading stuff like this. In terms of the blog, I am 100 percent on your side. I believe that adderall use in sports is definitely questioned by those who have read about it or even those who have experienced it. Like you stated, in logic terms, it is probably more helpful when doing off the field work such as studying a playbook or watching opponents film. However, the results so far prove otherwise. Three of the biggest names in sports who have been caught are Carlos Ruiz, and Seahawks Cornerback tandem Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. The facts are there. Carlos Ruiz, who recently tested positive for adderall use is coming off his best statistical season by far. Brandon Browner, who was rumored to have been taking the drug for a year now, is coming off his only probowl season. Richard Sherman, who was also recently caught, is also havign by far his best season and looking at his first pro bowl trip before he was recently suspended. Whether it is direct on field advantages or advantages in the books that translate to the field, there is no doubt adderall produces a statistical and performance enhancement. Here is a link on the effects of adderall itself:
http://drugabuse.com/library/the-effects-of-adderall-use/

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