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
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.