Is Adderall the New Drug of Choice for NFL Players?
The abuse of Adderall has become an epidemic in the NFL as numerous players have tested positive for amphetamine use in recent years, but it remains unclear if the league’s revised drug policy will help the problem.
Adderall is a prescription medication commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in both kids and adults. It’s a combination of two stimulant drugs, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. However, it has also become commonly used as both a study aid for college students and a coping mechanism for professional athletes.
It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued… there’s no question it’s a performance-enhancing drug.-Dr. Gary Wadler
Given the grueling lifestyle of an NFL player that consists of physical exercise for several hours per day and traveling to multiple cities each week throughout the season, use of a drug like Adderall could give them an extra boost of energy needed to keep up. Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman suggested that half of the players in the NFL were using Adderall, before declaring that he had been misquoted.
“It masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal — like being in The Zone,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, past chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee. “It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued… there’s no question it’s a performance-enhancing drug.”
Adderall use has been on the rise throughout the NFL in recent years. Eight players were linked to Adderall or publicly blamed it for their failed drug tests or violations of the league’s substance abuse policy in 2012, compared to just one player the previous year. However, the league’s policy does not allow for players to be called out on what drugs they specifically tested positive for. The most recent example is Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker receiving a four-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines, leading to rumor stories linking him to both Adderall and MDMA abuse.
NFL Announces Revised Drug Policy
Positive tests for amphetamine use during the off-season will now be considered a violation of the substance abuse policy.
The NFL’s revised drug policy, which was announced this week, includes sweeping changes in how the league will test for amphetamine use. Positive tests for amphetamine use during the off-season will now be considered as a violation of the substance abuse policy. They were previously considered performance-enhancing drugs and a first positive test warranted a four-game suspension.
Other changes in the NFL drug policy include two-game suspensions for a conviction or guilty plea on a DUI charge, higher thresholds for a positive marijuana test (from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 35 ng/ml) and the introduction of new tests for human growth hormone (HGH).
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Learn more about the risks of Adderall abuse and addiction
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