Adderall creeping further and further into athletics

Adderall is a stimulant medication prescribed by physicians to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).  It has also become a popular “performance-enhancing drug” used by athletes.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder consisting of an inability to maintain attention along with features of hyperactivity and impulsivity.  It is typically seen in both boys and girls under the age of 7 but symptoms can persist into adulthood.  It affects approximately 8% of children.

Adults with ADHD typically have difficulty remembering information, completing tasks and concentrating.

There is no specific test for ADHD.  The diagnosis is primarily based on observing a child’s behavior or extensive neuropsychological testing in adults. 

The treatment principally consists of stimulant medications that can improve the ability to remain focused.  The dosage must be carefully adjusted based on symptoms and the response to therapy.

Adderall (dextroamphetamine-amphetamine) is the principal drug used to treat ADHD.  It is a potent stimulant that can cause increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate and seizures.  It has become an attractive performance-enhancing drug for athletes due to its ability to fight fatigue and improve concentration.

Non-prescription use of Adderall has increased recently among high school and college students to enhance academic performance.

The challenge for sports organizations like the NCAA, NFL and MLB is deciding which players have a legitimate reason for using Adderall.  Like other medications, an athlete can apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

 “ADHD is overwhelmingly the most common diagnosis associated with TUEs in Major League Baseball,” said Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Connecticut.  He also serves as the Independent Program Administrator for MLB’s Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.  He is responsible for overseeing the 119 TUEs issued by MLB this year of which 116 were for ADHD.

The use of medications to improve athletic performance is a growing problem.  The solution is not in more regulation but increased honesty among athletes.