Why Are NFL Players Taking Adderall?

Amphetamine abuse can lead to heart failure and even death. 

Posted: 11/30/2012 05:51 PM EST
Brandon Browner

Cornerback Brandon Browner of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

While amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin are mostly prescribed to younger children to deal with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, recent reports have found a growing trend in NFL players using these stimulants.

Since last December, 10 players, including Seattle Seahawks’ Brandon Browner and New York Giants’ Will Hill, have been suspended for being caught using these banned drugs without getting permission from the league. “Players can apply for an exemption by submitting documentation proving they need a prescription to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,” reported the Associated Press. Without that exemption, players are accused of using these drugs for performance enhancement.

But why are athletes poppin’ these pills?

Some suspect that players may be overwhelmed with the demands of the NFL, and these drugs allow for them to focus better. The NJ Star-Ledger wrote:

The string of cases has raised the notion that Adderall has become a drug of fashion in the NFL. A person who serves as an adviser for several players around the league told The Star-Ledger that players use the drug during training camp and the early part of the season to help them study their team’s playbook.

For many, their chances of making the team and succeeding in the ultra-competitive NFL depends largely on their capacity to learn the playbook, which can be hundreds of pages thick, densely packed with a series of diagrams that to the untrained eye resembles Rorschach tests.

It’s important to point out that NFL players are not the only ones who use these drugs. Over the years, reports have found that college students and overworked Americans who struggle to keep up with their work are abusing these drugs to help them deal. Perhaps this is why Adderall is the most abused prescription drugs in the U.S.

And while amphetamine users experience increased alertness and ability to finish assignments and tasks quickly, there are negative side effects, too. Short-term side effects include increased breathing rates, heart rates and high blood pressure. It can also cause dilated pupil and decreased appetite, which can last between four to six hours or even longer.

Larger doses can cause fever, headaches, blurred vision and dizziness. Very high doses can cause an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, seizures, heart failure, strokes and even death.

Hopefully, NFL players who are taking these drugs fully understand that more than just their careers are at stake when it comes to amphetamine use.

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