From FOX Sports
Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
has moved from the college campuses into locker rooms, and professional sports are cracking down on its use.
The prescription drug that can sharpen focus and hone impulse control has become popular in NFL circles — at least seven players have received suspensions from the league office this season related to Adderall use.
And it appears some NFL players may be using, and abusing, Adderall just as some high school and college students do: by relying on it as a chemical aid to quickly help them cram and disseminate reams of complex information.
The difference isn’t all that striking, some psychologists say. Pulling an all-nighter to finish a complicated term paper can be equated to a player being forced to quickly recognize and react to the coverage on an NFL playing field.
As far as Adderall being recognized as a focus aid during a game, Bay Area Lab Co-Operative founder Victor Conte told FOXSports.com that drugs like Adderall — despite little literature to back up the effectiveness of such drugs in sports — are indeed considered performance-enhancing.
None of the players would have been suspended if they had a legitimate, clinical need for Adderall, which often is prescribed to children and adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The NFL Players Association is in the midst of alerting its membership about the need to file for a therapeutic use exemption, or a TUE, to avoid the four-game bans that come with a positive test for Adderall without such a waiver.
While players have increasingly turned to Adderall to help sharpen their game focus, Gardner said the drug is no panacea as a study aid. Some players may gain no benefit at all.
Before the recent spate of positives in the NFL, “uppers” were thought to be more of a problem in Major League Baseball. The use of “greenies” — energy-boosting amphetamines — first came to the public’s attention with the release of the 1970 book “Ball Four,” written by former major-league pitcher Jim Bouton.
The National Hockey League and even NASCAR — driver A.J. Allmendinger was suspended this season after he tested positive for a substance he said was Adderall — have experienced issues with their athletes and amphetamines.
When MLB began to crack down on the use of amphetamines before the 2006 season by enforcing a 25-game suspension for a first offense, players in that sport began gravitating toward Adderall. The number of therapeutic-use exemptions in baseball jumped from 28 in 2006 to more than 100 in each season since, according to figures provided by MLB.
Unlike the NFL, experts see Adderall use in baseball attributed more to its effect as stimulant to combat a long, 162-game season. There were 105 MLB exemptions approved in 2011, a usage rate, about 8.75 percent, that is about double than the general adult population, about 4 percent to 5 percent.
The NFL does not disclose how many of its players have exemptions for Adderall, although Birch said the drug’s use in the NFL is lower than the overall male population within the same age group. A player not only has to have a valid diagnosis for ADD or ADHD along with a prescription for Adderall, but the TUE filed by the player needs the approval for football’s independent administrator.