Players are always looking for ways to gain a competitive edge on their opponents, and it’s not uncommon for some to utilize prescription medication, typically Adderall. Prescription stimulant medications like Adderall are known to be an effective way to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Because of this, many people mistakenly believe it can also enhance their attention and focus even if they don’t suffer from ADHD.
Competitive players are often overwhelmed by the daunting tasks of performing, while simultaneously dealing with other life stresses. Work, completing school, and family/intimate relationships often cause players to look for a quick and easy way to focus on the task at hand and ignore everything else in their life. This is where a reliance on medications such as Adderall can occur. Some studies in healthy college students however have shown that even moderate long-term Adderall usage, while perhaps enhancing focus, can be detrimental.
While it has been frequently documented that college students misuse Adderall in order to try and enhance their academic performance, a study conducted by Weyandt et al. in 2018, showed that moderate use of Adderall helped improve attention but had minimal effects of any other cognitive aspects. Instead it was revealed that Adderall actually reduced working memory. Also known as short-term memory, this is the memory skill used to recall important and relevant information during an activity, something essential for a competitive gamer.
Studies completed on healthy college students utilizing Adderall to enhance their academic performance showed they also use it to help them achieve a certain mindset. Typically, students are using these medications when stressed, overwhelmed or have low self-esteem, as it has the added effect of altering one’s emotional state. Adderall can cause a positive emotional shift in its users which causes users to feel calm, confident, and in control. When individuals become reliant on medications to give them these emotions however, addiction often soon follows. The repercussions of becoming reliant on prescription medication to perform not only in the classroom but in the competitive scene can have a huge negative impact on a player’s mental and physical health.
Fortunately, there are non-pharmaceutical ways to improve focus which can be helpful in the long-term without the negative effects of prescription medications like Adderall. Taking a simple short break when playing games or studying can be incredibly helpful, as putting all your mental resources into one task for a long period of time can decrease one’s focus. Shifting your attention for even a few minutes can help improve your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Practicing mindfulness via mindfulness meditation involves focusing attention and being involved in the present-moment. A simple way of doing this is to stop, take a breath, and listen to your thoughts. Ask yourself what you are feeling, like your own emotions, thoughts, and sensations, allowing you to sort your thoughts, and better focus. Through mindfulness, you can not only gain control over your attention, but you can also help better control emotions and become more self-aware, preventing your attention from shifting in the future.
There are many alternatives to medications like Adderall, healthier ways to enhance your gameplay and other aspects of your life. In the long run these non-medication tips can help not only enhance your ability to perform at your peak, but improve overall quality of life.
Abelman, D. D. (2017). Mitigating risks of students use of study drugs through understanding motivations for use and applying harm reduction theory: A literature review. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12954-017-0194-6
Tang, Y. (2017). Traits and States in Mindfulness Meditation. The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation, 29-34. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-46322-3_4
Weyandt, L., White, T., Gudmundsdottir, B., Nitenson, A., Rathkey, E., Leon, K. D., & Bjorn, S. (2018). Neurocognitive, Autonomic, and Mood Effects of Adderall: A Pilot Study of Healthy College Students. Pharmacy, 6(3), 58. doi:10.3390/pharmacy6030058