I take adderall. I've taken it since I had to switch off Ritalin because it elevated my heart rate. I have a serious case of ADD which was ADHD when I was a kid. The difference it has made in my life is profound. I am a smart guy for the most part. I was pulling straight F's in school from 4th grade on (because that was the first year they gave out letter grades). My parents ran me through every psychologist and other doctor they could. No solutions were found.
I was in and out of high school five times before finally being expelled in November of my sophomore year. I finally got a GED at age 18 1/2 due to my brother prodding me to do it. Then I took one college class and it was excruciating. I got a good grade though, as it was a writing class. Then I attempted to take a full load of classes. I failed all of them. I was put on academic probation and tried again. I passed one class and failed the rest. I got a "last chance buddy" from BYU and took only classes that completely interested me, but had nothing to do with my major. I ended up getting straight C's, but it was awful. Luckily I was in a group where I was going overseas and 12 of my credits were tied to that. That was the only thing that helped me to pass, and one art class. So I passed 16 credits. 12 study abroad, 3 art, 1 for golf. That was it. Then I just quit and went to work for a software company. I ended up quitting that job after 3 months. I couldn't handle it.
This is where I realized I needed help. I went and saw a doctor who was younger and more into the latest and greatest treatments and not the "usual stuff". He looked through all of my school records, had me take tests, etc. He then just observed me taking this survey and said that I had the highest ADD score he'd ever seen, and I was 23 at the time. He said most people outgrow it by adulthood, but that is typically if they have ADD as a child. If they have ADHD as a child then it frequently morphs into ADD as an adult. He put me on medication. Within a week I noticed things were different. I saw the world differently. I was dare I say it, happy? I didn't sit in a chair and freak out. I could sleep. I went to a movie and sat through it. I went and got my job back after some begging and quickly soared to the top of the charts for productivity and got promoted. I decided after a year and a half to give school another try.
I signed up for the teaching program at Utah Valley State. I ended up graduating in 3.5 years with a 3.95 GPA and perfect evaluation scores. I kept my job the entire time. I was healthy and happy and working 35 hours a week volunteering ten hours a week in elementary schools, and attending school for 4-6 hours a day. It was like night and day. Then I got my first teaching job and everything fell apart within a month. I had stopped taking my meds and I was disorganized, I couldn't remember even small details, I was exhausted, I was confused, I was depressed, I was completely failing at life. I then got back on my meds and things went haywire. It was at this point that they went through a few other meds, and finally found adderall. It took a year to get on Adderall, but I sort of limped along and did ok. The year I got on Adderall I was me again. My students ended up with the highest test scores in the school. I was being interviewed by the district to find out how my scores jumped so much, and it sort of snowballed from there. My students were excelling, and I was promoted to administration. Adderall saved my life and career I think. It also brought out the best in me. There was a clear difference on days when I didn't take my medicine. I was given almost all students with ADD or ADHD because I was able to relate to them and we got along great. I helped a lot of them to love school and to make it through the year and they came out feeling good about themselves and school.
Why am I going into so much detail? Well.... partially because I have ADD and you can see it come across in my posts. But partially because I hate to see these medications demonized. The FDA is attempting to remove Adderall from the shelves and replace it with Vyvanse, which is a medication that works on the same receptors, but has additional binders and fillers that help to prevent abuse, but also I am extremely allergic to and I can't function on Vyvanse or any other medication. Adderall is the thing that holds my life together and its cousins in the same family of medications gave me a life. They gave me a career, a wife, children, and all things I never could have gotten without treatment.
I say this with a totally open mind. There is a possibility that we have several players with severe enough cases of ADD that it warrants treatment. You never know. There is also a chance that they think it helps them to play better, or to learn their playbooks, or they were kids who suffered from ADHD and now suffer from Adult ADD like I do, and received it from a doctor who performed the appropriate testing, but failed to get the appropriate waiver from the league (look at the amount of waivers for ADD meds in baseball, it's astronomical, but I can say as a former baseball player that a lot of us kids with ADHD were good at baseball... it was an extremely large amount actually). Look at the compulsive behaviors of athletes. Tightening and retightening gloves, shoes, etc. Adjusting and readjusting chin straps. "Ceremonies" before and during plays that border on obsessive compulsive. I feel that having a good case of ADD can help in sports. I never took my medication before games, and I always felt like I played better off of it. But I did take it everyday when I didn't have a game or after it, because then I could focus on the remainder of my life. I think adrenaline took care of me during game time and my focus was good and such. If anything, I felt like Ritalin/Adderall caused me issues during games. I'd get very dehydrated, my blood sugar would drop, I'd cramp like crazy, etc. But in a normal day it was fine and all went well.
My hope is that athletes who are abusing it realize that whether they think they are a role model or not doesn't matter to me. The fact is that if they are using the medication improperly then they are creating more issues within the medical community and with the FDA which then creates a stigma and doctors stop prescribing it for those who genuinely need it. But... if players truly need it, and have documentation, then they need to get the proper clearances and get the appropriate waiver from the league. It is the same with many medications. Did you know that athletes can take synthetic testosterone and many do? They need a waiver and league approval because they may suffer from low testosterone. It runs in families. There are a large percentage of athletes who are exceptional who have conditions that allow them to be on medications that don't give them a competitive advantage (such as amphetamine salts like adderall and synthetic t like androgel, testim, and others). They just help the person to fix a chemical imbalance and restore them to a normal level where they are playing and functioning in life at a level they wouldn't be otherwise. I am one of those people, and I hope like heck that these guys did this on the up and up. The chances of 3 of our 8 or so DB's having ADD are slim I guess, but you never know. One or two could be legit, and another could have tried it because the others were using it.
Another interesting factoid... ask a friend in the Air Force who flies what they carry in their pocket with them. My last discussion with my doctor about adderall and the fear of it being banned was met with a discussion on the fact that most pilots are given adderall by the military to help them focus and make it on long flights, particularly in combat. Soldiers on the ground are frequently given it as well for the same reasons. They use it to pep them up and keep them functioning and to keep their mind from wandering during difficult circumstances, lack of sleep, lack of food, etc. It is a lifesaver for many of our troops. If it was as dangerous as some people say I don't think it would be given out that freely. But I'm biased as I've been given a life by my treatment for ADD. I hope that athletes and others take it seriously that these medications are the difference maker in many children and adult lives and if they are just horsing around then they are damaging the great treatments for a serious disorder and hurting those of us who depend on it for life. But they are also hurting themselves and their teammates by not getting waivers properly and such. If they had, then I don't think there would be an appeal needed, even if they did get the prescription legitimately. They should have learned from Moffit last year. You need to follow protocol and it won't be an issue. If they did, then I apologize for acting like they didn't, but this is something that is very important to me and as many as 5-10 kids in a classroom at any given moment.
R.I.P. Dad. I miss you. You will never be forgotten
1/12/39 - 8/7/08