Are There Speed Freaks in the Major Leagues Trying to Gain an Edge, or Just a Lot of Legitimate ADHD Patients?
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Separating those two is a continuing cognitive dissonance fraught with its own turf politics and economics. Where does the social construction of ADHD end, and where does its actual mental condition begin? Or is that vice versa? Solve that knotted tangle and you'll know who's taking psychostimulants to function normally and who's taking them to get over.
"Torres suffers an acute case," added Haney-Jardine, who declined to discuss the medication taken by the New York Mets' newest acquisition. "He has enormous trouble concentrating. He has trouble shutting down his brain, especially at night, and he has enormous troubles with the executive function of the brain. Imagine a 100 mile-per-hour pitch coming at you while you're thinking about rice and beans your mom used to make."
Scott Eyre discussed presumably similar distractions in 2001, after being one of baseball's earliest players to declare ADHD.
"I was on the mound and the catcher came out to talk to me, and when he walked away, I got distracted by the crowd and couldn't remember a word he said," Eyre told Additude magazine. "Suddenly I felt totally confused. I had no idea what I was doing."
That both players have turned to accepted pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD is instructive, as are the questions surrounding whether or not these are acceptable reasons for obvious performance enhancement. Especially from an entertainment profession fully primed to create athletes with prescription drug addictions.
"Torres was diagnosed in the mid-'00s by a psychiatrist and given medication, and there were dramatic changes on the field and at home as a result," Anthony Haney-Jardine explained. "He was a career minor leaguer. Suddenly, he took medication and he has a World Series ring. That's not to say that medication is the silver bullet, or that it works for everyone."
Perhaps not, but it obviously works, for athletes and students. College papers are publishing commentaries about how it's easy for students to score Adderall from doctors happy to hand out the amped candy, as well as their financially savvy classmates. " We're seeing it all across the United States," the DEA told the New York Times.
"With stimulants, these adverse effects can be quite serious, particularly if you don't know what dose you're supposed to be taking," Barbara Young explained. "When students are taking these things, they don't know if one is good, two is better, three is really good or four are for their finals."
"There's a lot of peer pressure," she added. "Students who are on ADHD medication are also feeling the pressure of diversion, which is selling and stealing the drug, and we hear about diversion along the retail pipeline from wholesalers and others. But I think the floodgates open once it's dispensed to consumers. Once people try to make money from drugs like Adderall that achieve a certain cachet, the online prescription industry starts booming. I'm sure you get spam for it; Adderall is up there with Viagra."
According to Teva Pharmaceuticals, that dangerous but lucrative diversion of Adderall is someone else's problem.
Like oxycontin and cocaine, "Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, and the package insert clearly states the risks associated with incorrect dosage, misuse or abuse and recommends that doctors properly monitor patients," Teva spokesperson Denise Bradley told AlterNet. "Prescription medicine should be taken according to the package insert and under the supervision of a doctor."
Sure it should, but users and observers both know that's just not how the world works. Currently, it works this way: We will take, by any means necessary, any drug we can get our hands on to process the mad, mad world we've created, especially to gain any advantage we can over the fading faces around us. To expect our children or athletes, who we're dosing to gain the same advantages over their peers and competitors, to adhere to another model of reality makes no sense to them. Their wise elders and voyeurs created a world where everyone along the pharmaceutical supply line, from manufacturers and counterfeiters to pushers and professional and amateur consumers, is more part of the problem than the solution.