Performance enhancing drug use common in poker tournaments and with classical musicians

Ask most people on the streets about performance enhancing drugs and some of America’s favorite past times spring to mind: baseball and football. Scandals have hit Major League Baseball hard over the last year with top athletes being found to use performance-enhancing drugs like steroids.

Activities many people won’t think of when it comes to performance-enhancing drug use are poker and classical music. The drugs used in the two latter fields differ from steroids, but the intended gains from taking the drugs is the same as athletes look for in taking steroids -- performance gains.

The drugs used to boost mental capabilities include ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin or Provigil, which is a medication to combat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder where a sufferer’s normal sleep pattern is interrupted leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and falling asleep at any random time.

Professional poker player Paul Philips credits Adderall and Provigil with helping him to earn $2.3 million USD playing poker. Philips says that the drugs allowed him to better concentrate during big tournaments.

According to the LA Times, a 2005 survey of more than 10,000 college students found that 4% to 7% had tried ADHD drugs at least once to focus more for exams or pull all night study session. Sarah Tuck, a flutist with the San Diego Symphony, told the LA Times that she had used beta-blockers like Inderal to combat what musicians refer to as “rubber fingers” prior to performances and auditions.

“When your heart is racing and your hands are shaking and you have difficulty breathing, it is difficult to perform,” said Tuck.  Inderal helps block the effects of adrenaline in the system, reducing the feeling of nervousness.

Medical professionals like to point out that the study of these drugs in healthy patients has not been conducted and that the side effects of these medications could be worse than any potential gain. Unlike steroids where cancer is a serious concern for users, the side effects of the mental enhancing drugs can be as mild as nausea or headache.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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