The whole idea of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) is nothing new. Most recently, Russia was banned from “officially” competing in the Olympics because of a doping scandal. (Even the Russian curling team tested positive for banned drugs!) Professional baseball and football has strengthened it penalties for PEDS after superstars like Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez were nabbed as abusers. And who could forget the demise and public disgrace of cyclist Lance Armstrong?
Now, in the age of eSports, electronic gaming can mean big paydays for professionals, as well as increased chances of addictive behavior among gamers who play for the thrill of it. In fact, in May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) will add “gaming disorder” to its official list of mental health conditions. This action could be related to the abuse of the drug, Adderall, which serious gamers use to stay focused during intense, competitive sessions. The resulting side effects from an Adderall high are among the newest threats to mental health.
Adderall, which is used to treat narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults, contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. They are classified as central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Known for its calming effect, Adderall is prescribed to help students concentrate better in the classroom. It has also been widely used, without a prescription, by college students pulling all-nighters while “cramming” for exams.
An Adderall high is a feeling of euphoria, high energy, and supreme self-confidence that comes from an improper Adderall dosage. (What that dosage is varies by individual.) While the short-term experience may be what the user is seeking, the potential for harmful side effects and addiction are very real, especially if taken in ways not prescribed (inhaled/injected). The downside of an Adderall high includes anxiety, depression, psychosis and even death. That begs the question, “Are the rewards worth the risks?”
Now, Adderall has found its way into the eSports arena. Many serious gaming pros openly admit to using – and abusing – this substance. At the highest level, these competitors must stay calm and attentive in high-stakes games ($250,000+), as they deal with equally skilled opponents. Reaction time and laser focus is critical. Many feel that Adderall provides a competitive edge. But does it?
While the study of the correlation between Adderall effects on gaming is in its infancy, the current thinking is that Adderall may have more of a placebo effect than an actual effect. In other words, competitors who believe they’re enhancing their performance with Adderall, may, in fact be doing so, even though there is no clinical evidence to support the idea.
Organizations such as the Electronic Sports League (ESL) have begun to promote drug-free competition and penalize those who don’t comply. But even this kind of regulation may be hard to enforce when the competition is global and virtual. As eSports become more regulated, it may be organizations like the ESL that bring awareness to the competitors who face life-threatening Adderall side effects. Ideally, these cyber athletes could learn other natural techniques, like mindfulness, that could help them achieve calm and focus amidst the gaming storm.
Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida can help you break free from Adderall abuse or other prescription drug abuse. If you or someone you care about needs help with addiction, please contact our admissions counselor online or call 888-711-0354 today. All communications with our staff are confidential.