The lights are on
Member - Level 1
From the Olympics to Major League Baseball, and, more recently, the Tour de France, performance-enhancing substance abuse has marred the memory of countless superstar athletes and competitors, despite thorough, painstaking efforts from international and multi-million dollar organizations. In the growing world of professional gaming, the problem hasn't even been addressed by most major organizations, and substance abuse is rampant.
"I have been a part of Professional Gaming for nine years now, and can
safely say that Adderall has always been a part of the scene. No matter
what game was being played, what year it was, or whether it was a
tournament or a LAN, Adderall was being used." -Gandhi, Professional Halo 2 player and current Major League Gaming (MLG) broadcaster
Adderall is a brand name psychostimulant drug prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is commercially available and legal only in the United States and Canada, and is often known as a "study drug" for its reported ability to help focus energy and concentration to a much higher level than normal. It is readily shared or sold around college campuses, easily concealed, odorless, and can be perceived as a harmless, prescribed drug. Some side effects include dizziness, nervousness, headache, loss of appetite and
weight loss, as well as faster heartbeat combined with lower blood
pressure. Other potential side effects in adults include insomnia, headaches, increased muscle tension, irritability, and anxiety.
Most aspiring professional gamers are teenagers, who are also prescribed the most Adderall in America. The number of prescriptions for A.D.H.D. medications dispensed for young
people ages 10 to 19 has risen 26 percent since 2007, to almost 21
million yearly, according to IMS Health, a health care information
company. Because Adderall is legal, wildly popular, and the short-term side-effects are often mild, many teenagers don't think twice about abusing it for heightened awareness and focus in-game. But prolonged, repeated abuse increases the risk of experiencing more severe side effects, can cause stunted growth in teens, and even psychosis can occur at
therapeutic doses during chronic therapy.
"One of the scariest things about my experience with Adderall was that
after a month of taking the drug I had completely lost track of who I
was. I couldn’t decide if the 'Adderall' me was the real me or the sober
one was. It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced."
The problem for MLG and other professional gaming organizations is how to test efficiently and effectively within the current competitive format. The only way to ensure that competitors aren't taking performance-enhancing substances is to test before, and, more importantly, after each event. To test every single person who shows up to an event would be costly (and probably infeasible, especially since the test must be administered twice); to test only, say, the top 16 teams would mean that a competitor could get eliminated by a team that was cheating, only to find out later that she should have continued on. At the very least, the latter would show young fans that they will never make it to the top if they abuse performance-enhancing drugs--something MLG has utterly failed to do in its decade of existence. I would argue that if MLG only tested the top 8 teams--which are primarily stacked with familiar, seasoned Main-Stage veterans--the problem would begin to fade. The edge that Adderall gives is negligible compared with years of practice, dedication, and teamwork. As with all performance-enhancing drug abuse, the short-term effects are outweighed by their long-term physical and mental health consequences. MLG must do the right thing for its community, its competitors, and its legitimacy as a fair, balanced, competitive sport. The time is now.
Ray Lumpp is a writer, photographer, musician, and professional gaming enthusiast living in Seattle, Washington. He has competed and spectated at several MLG events and continues to be an active member of the community. When he's not watching VOD or forging, he writes for AllTreatment.com, an online resource for people seeking help with addiction treatment and recovery.
No one has commented on this article.