Adderall: 'These guys are playing with fire'

There has been some question to this point about Adderall's place among performance-enhancing drugs.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune clears up the confusion with a piece featuring expert testimony from Dr. David Ferguson, a medicinal chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota. This is a must read if you've been wondering where Adderall fits into the equation amid reports linking the Seattle Seahawks and others to the drug.

Among the basic findings, according to Ferguson via Williams:

  • Not just recreational: While there is a social component to Adderall use, Ferguson says the drug enhances performance by improving focus and confidence.

  • Beating the testing system: Adderall leaves the system quickly and becomes undetectable through urine testing after about 10 hours. Drinking water in large quantities can accelerate the process. Players could take Adderall to get up for a game, then pass a test the following day.

  • Side effects: Sustained Adderall use can damage the heart.

  • Addictive: Adderall is an amphetamine. Ferguson: "These guys are playing with fire. They’re throwing gas on it. It’s crazy to me that you would be taking these drugs with normal brain chemistry, and not expecting to have some kind of dependency grow."

That last comment from Ferguson is key. Some players legitimately need Adderall and similar substances to function normally. The drug affects them differently. That is why the NFL allows medical exemptions for Adderall in certain cases.