View Full Version : Adderall and Athletic Performance, an ethical question

07-23-06, 12:36 AM
Hey everyone,

I've been prescribed Adderall for ADD for almost 6 months now. It has helped me immensely with school, work, and just staying organized and functional in my everyday life. Being diagnosed and treated has basically helped me become a new person in regards to having successful relationships, to not losing my keys and cell phone every day.

I'm a very physically active person, I think being a bodybuilder and endurance athlete helped me cope with ADD before I was diagnosed. A side effect I've noticed is that along with increased mental focus during my workouts and endurance races, I also have more aerobic and anaerobic endurance. I've had my most successful competition season so kinda feels like I'm cheating due to this "performance enhancing" side effect.

Am I being fair to my competition? Am I cheating? Is this all just a side effect of a better mental focus?

07-23-06, 01:00 AM

Not that I think you're "bad" or anything. Just saying that technically, most stimulants are banned from athletic competition (except caffiene, maybe ginsing, etc.).....Among other performance enhancing substances. Reference WADA (world anti doping association (agency?)) online for specifics. Some drugs are banned for particular events while others are not - one drug that slows heart-rate for marksmen/archers probably wouldn't help with running, and wouldn't be screened for. But adderall is high on the list.

I am a formerly competitive athlete, so I am somewhat familiar with this. Although I was never medicated at the time, being undiagnosed. Now, I still exercise quite hard, and am similarly facing an ethical dilemma about taking the next step and competing. It would not be "fair", and more importantly, it would be illegal. And would disqualify you from the competition (and potentially ban you from competition altogether) if you test positive.

But it shouldn't matter if you're doing excercise at a personal/recreational level. Which is how I see things at the moment. I train vigorously every day and do my thing. I don't think I will compete on adderall, though. Not only due to showing up on a test, but ethically I dont think it would be fair to my opponents, and would belittle my achievement.

Im not sure of the exact technical rules (like I said, see WADA), but what it really comes down to is COMPETING with the substance in your system as far as stimulants go. Im not sure about their specifics concerning precompetition/offseason with stimulants, but steroids are completely banned, especially during training, where they have the most impact. So really, the gray-area here probably concerns the technicalities of training while medicated, and up to what point one can remain medicated up to a particular competetive event.....definitely not applicable to steroids, but MAYBE other substances.

Anyway, long ramble. In short, amphetamines are illegal during athletic competition.

07-23-06, 01:12 AM
wolf! wow that is completely wrong, if you are prescribed to a drug it automatically disqualifies you from failing said drug test. it is perfectly legal and ethical to perform on said stimulant. The med was recieved not for physical enhancement but for mental competence.

07-23-06, 01:22 AM
wolf! wow that is completely wrong, if you are prescribed to a drug it automatically disqualifies you from failing said drug test. it is perfectly legal and ethical to perform on said stimulant. The med was recieved not for physical enhancement but for mental competence.

Nope. Some things are absolute. MAYBE showing a prescription could get you from not being banned for 2 years, and even then you're still responsible for what shows up in your system.

Im referring to athletic competition under international rules. Not general employment.

Im not going to argue any more specifics without referencing WADA. Im not an expert on the subject and this is just what I know off the top of my head.

07-23-06, 01:32 AM
This link has basic Q&A about rules....

This is a list of banned substances:

You CANT use banned substances, even if prescribed.

07-23-06, 02:15 AM
I'm not talking about WADA or anything like that. I'm talking about my own experiences competing as an amateur. I don't want to know the legal answers, that wasn't the question. I'll pose my question again. Is it ethically wrong for me to compete while on adderall? Honestly, I feel the edge is more psychological. Meaning, I can focus better while running 10 miles, rather than looking around and thinking what my friend Lisa meant when she said she liked my cologne or when I'm gonna pay that damn phone bill. I can focus on the task at hand. Plus, I get a little extra ooomph.

Do you think this is unethical for me to compete this way? I don't care what WADA or any other organization thinks.

BTW, I take 10mg 3x over a day. Not a huge amount, just enough to help clear out the cobwebs.

07-23-06, 05:10 AM
Adderall made me perform worse at athletics. It decreased my testosterone or something maybe, i dont know. I didnt feel like killing everyone (figuratively, on the soccer field) so much so I wasnt as gung-ho so to speak.

07-23-06, 05:37 AM
Private organizations don't have to follow international rules, they're mainly set up for the big international competitions like Olympics, World Cup, various World Championship tournaments, etc. Many sports leagues, especially at the amateur level, will usually allow someone to compete if they have a valid prescription and medical need. After all, they wouldn't ban a kid with athsma who uses an inhaler simply because those meds are corticosteroids. If you are still in middle/high school, and especially if it's public school, there are almost certainly exemptions for medication. If you're not in any organization, but are simply working out on your own time, entering local races and such and not gaining any money or serious riches from it, then I don't see any ethical problem.

It is probably a good idea to speak with your coach or trainer, if you have one, or with the organizer of an event if you compete on your own, and simply mention that you are prescribed a medication by your doctor, and you want to know if you need to file any special paperwork or medical information. That way if anyone involved feels that it is unethical, you'll have more time to sit down and talk about it and get good advice, rather than having people get into arguments about it after the fact.

07-23-06, 12:14 PM
Key word here is "competition".

It would be wrong to take adderall and break your highschool record for the 100 m., for example. Not only would that be ethically wrong on your part (unfair advantage), you would have erased the legitimate achievement of another athlete in the process.

Again, if its just recreational activity, there shouldn't be a problem.

In the end, you have your own conscience. Do whats right, not what you can get away with.

07-23-06, 12:31 PM
MattyB: Im not trying to be on your case, by the way. Im simply trying to say that adderall boosts athletic performance. Personally, I love that aspect of it myself, as I have a pretty intense workout schedule and adderall has made it that much better (among other things).

Im just trying to point out what I can in response to your post.

Also, like Hyperion pointed out, it also depends on the sport/organization. Professional bodybuilding practically DEPENDS on substances like growth hormone and steroids for anabolism, and stimulants to improve weightloss and muscle definition AND improve training intensity overall.

07-23-06, 04:08 PM
Wow...Adderall, Ritalin, Dex. etc. really do improve athletic performance? By how much? In what activities? I can imagine for distance anything they would, but for weight-lifting?

Meanwhile, my feeling is that we are disabled, so the other guys have the "unfair" advantage over us if we're not medicated. Maybe an ethical solution to amateur competition would be to take just enough to suppress symptoms the minimum needed to compete but not enough to make a large competitive difference? Half-*****, yes, but the partly compensated disability might make up in competition for the partial drug advantage.

07-23-06, 05:33 PM
I noticed the same thing. I am 22 in college and take Adderall XR to help that. But i went on a run yesterday, and ran 3 miles non stop in the heat, and just stoped because i had to be somewhere, i couldn't beleive it. It sort of took away my fatigue, and kept me focused on running.

I can definately see why you asked this question.

but i agree that we take this drug because we are at a 'disability' to others. And unless you are competing in the Olympics, lol, i wouldn't worry about it.

07-25-06, 03:33 AM
Like I said earlier, adderall made me perform significantly worse athletically. I took effexor for awhile though and i was an unstoppable beast on the soccer field! I could run forever without getting winded and had alot of aggressive energy and ridiculous focus which is allways good for sports! Adderall just the opposite though. Made me feel very lethargic and maybe even made me shorter of breath. I have asthma, i was wondering if maybe the chemicals in either of these drugs effected my asthma positively or negatively, respectively.

07-31-06, 04:59 AM
When I first took this stuff and I went to the gym, I had been peaked on flat bench at 215 for a little over a month and I was getting like 6 clean reps up on it. When I was on this I did 225 8 times like its was nothin then baraley took a rest then did it 8 more times. I was like holy crap. My friend who didn't know I took this thought I was on the juice. I just told him I was having a good day. I definalty felt like I had an advantage that day. Adderall is like taking a whole bunch of the supplement NO-explode. Its for athletes and bodybuilders. NO-explode is also a stimulant that increases your energy and amplifys your mental focus, thats avaliable to everyone. But adderall is probably 10 times stonger than that or more. Im sure when you take an adderall you can run for days without getting tired you cant do that normally. You definatly have a bit of an advantage.

07-31-06, 08:45 PM
I would have to propose that taking Adderall, even as prescribed, may likely enhance your athletic performance beyond that of a 'non-ADD' you. Adderall (any Amphetamine, actually) has side effects aside from the intended dopamine and noradrenaline enhancement. (the things an ADD person needs)

Perhaps the most significant in relation to athletic performance is that: "Amphetamines can cause a significant elevation in plasma corticosteroid levels." ( This increase is significant enough that it can cause a person to fail a steroid test. Not that there are any steroids in the drug itself, but the drug stimulates the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis sufficiently to cause the body to make the excess corticosteroids all by itself. Also, another study I have read (using rats, no similar studies in humans that I have found) states that repeated exposure to dextroamphetamine (which Adderall is 2/3 comprised of) causes sensitization of the HPA axis to further environmental stressors, even 2 weeks after the last dose of the drug. ( In a nutshell, this means that you may not be able to just stop taking amphetamines a day or so prior to an event and have everything be normal. I have not been able to find any research regarding the effects of methlphenidate on corticosteroid levels.