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Two Seahawks facing suspension for suspected use of ADHD drug

Two of Seattle's cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, are facing four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy. Here Sherman talks to fellow players on the sidelines of a home game. (AP file photo)

Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are reportedly facing four game suspensions for allegedly violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. They will fight the suspension.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who broke the story, says a source tells them the substance in question is Adderall.

Many have called Adderall a “cognitive steroid.”

Adderall is an amphetamine that’s generally prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s also used for narcolepsy, which is basically excessive sleepiness.

Compared with the similar medication sold under the brand name Ritalin, Adderall is slightly more potent and its effects last longer.

“Depressives have Prozac, worrywarts have Valium, gym rats have steroids, and overachievers have Adderall,” says writer Joshua Foer.

He used Adderall for a week and conveyed his experience to Slate Magazine several years ago in an article called, “My Romance with ADHD meds.”

The first hour or so of being on Adderall is mildly euphoric. The feeling wears off quickly, giving way to a calming sensation, like a nicotine buzz, that lasts for several hours. When I tried writing on the drug, it was like I had a choir of angels sitting on my shoulders. I became almost mechanical in my ability to pump out sentences. The part of my brain that makes me curious about whether I have new e-mails in my inbox apparently shut down. Normally, I can only stare at my computer screen for about 20 minutes at a time. On Adderall, I was able to work in hourlong chunks. I didn’t feel like I was becoming smarter or even like I was thinking more clearly. I just felt more directed, less distracted by rogue thoughts, less day-dreamy. I felt like I was clearing away underbrush that had been obscuring my true capabilities.

At the same time, I felt less like myself. Though I could put more words to the page per hour on Adderall, I had a nagging suspicion that I was thinking with blinders on. This is a concern I’ve heard from other users of the drug. One writer friend who takes Adderall to read for long uninterrupted stretches told me that he uses it only rarely because he thinks it stifles his creativity. A musician told me he finds it harder to make mental leaps on the drug. “It’s something I’ve heard consistently,” says Eric Heiligenstein, clinical director of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. “These medications allow you to be more structured and more rigid. That’s the opposite of the impulsivity of creativity.”

Adderall is supposed to be effective for four to six hours. But I found the effects gradually wore off after about three. About six hours after taking the drug, I would feel slightly groggy, the way I sometimes get in the early afternoon when my morning coffee wears off. But when I’d lie down for an afternoon nap, I couldn’t go to sleep. My mind was still buzzing. This withdrawal effect is common. Adderall users often complain that they feel tired, “stupid,” or depressed the day after. After running on overdrive, your body has to crash.

Adderall is on the list of banned substances in the NCAA and NFL, unless the athlete alerts the league to a valid prescription for the medication.

Schefter reports both Sherman and Browner are appealing their suspensions, insisting they are innocent.

Sherman posted a statement on his Twitter account, saying:
“This issue will be resolved soon and the truth will come out. Not worried.”

The Seahawks released a statement saying they “are aware” of the report. Both players appeals could be heard as early as this week. Five games remain in the regular season.


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