Why Adderall use has skyrocketed in sports

Nov 28, 2012, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:41 pm
The reported suspension of the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman has shined a new light on the widesp...
The reported suspension of the Seahawks' Richard Sherman has shined a new light on the widespread use of the drug in all sports. (AP image)
(AP image)

The medication linked to the reported suspensions of two Seahawks has become a widely popular drug in all sports. Although some question whether Adderall is really that bad, experts say there’s no doubt it’s a performance-enhancing drug.

That’s the word from Seattle Times sports reporter Larry Stone, who detailed his look at athletes widespread use of Adderall in an interview with Ross and Burbank.

Adderall is commonly prescribed for ADHS to help patients focus, calm down and improve their concentration. It can have the opposite effect for people not undergoing treatment. Stone says after talking to a number of top experts, he’s convinced athletes are seeking both a mental and physical edge.

“There’s no question from the people I talked to, numerous physicians, that it does help you concentrate and assimilate information,” Stone says. “Some studies show that it helps hand eye coordination, it helps your acceleration, your strength; all the things you associate with athletic performance, not just the mental aspects.”

The drug is commonly called the “study drug,” widely used and abused by students and others seeking increased alertness and energy.

Adderall is outlawed by all major sports along with the International Olympic Committee and the NCAA. The NFL and other leagues allow its use in special exemptions to those with a documented medical need for the drug.

Stone says the NFL doesn’t disclose how many exemptions it has given, but he learned Major League Baseball granted 105 in 2011 alone.

Although commonly prescribed, it’s not without risk. The amphetamine can lead to addiction, sleeplessness, heart problems and potentially even death. But with athletes seeking any advantage possible, it’s little surprise the drug has gained so much popularity on the field or the court.

“I just think it’s the drug of the moment. The one that the players believe will give them an edge in all those areas,” says Stone.

Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have denied using the drug and vow to fight their reported suspensions in an appeal expected to be heard next week.

They’re not the only ones in trouble for the drug. Major League Baseball just suspended Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz for 25 games for testing positive for Adderall.

Unlike other performance-enhancing drugs like steroids, as long as Adderall remains legal it will remain a “vexing issue” for sports, says Stone.

Ross and Burbank

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Why Adderall use has skyrocketed in sports