Adderall increasing as problem for NFL

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- NFL tight end Weslye Saunders has the full attention of the Ballou High School football team.

"I messed up millions and millions of dollars and my reputation," says Saunders.

It's real talk from a guy who's been there. Saunders is a two time offender of the league's performance-enhancing substances policy, once for Adderall.

He's not alone. In September of 2013 the NFL reported more than a dozen players had been suspended in a 20-month span for using the drug that originally earned its reputation for helping kids with ADHD.

"Basically the kids have trouble focusing but they're also hyperactive," said Dr. Rajeev Pandarinath, senior sports medicine surgeon at George Washington University. "They may be aggressive in class or they may have trouble with aggressive behavior."

That focus part is what partially seems to be attracting NFL players. Saunders was one of them, at the time, a rookie coming off injury.

"I had a teammate suggest maybe Adderall would help bring me back, help me focus a little bit more," says Saunders.

Saunders claimed it didn't work, but what it did do was land him a four game suspension.

Increased focus isn't the only allure. WUSA9 Sports contacted multiple doctors who said there is a link between certain doses of Adderall and increased physical strength, and for some NFL players that's all they need to hear. Former Redskins defensive lineman Philip Daniels now runs his own sports nutrition company and isn't surprised players are turning to the amphetamine.

"They just want to find the next greatest thing, and sometimes they'll do it all costs," says Daniels.

According to doctors those costs can be devastating.

"It can cause things like improper conduction of the heart," says Dr. Pandarinath.

Saunders says he only took the drug once, his message to the kids at Ballou, don't ever take them.

"It impacted me a lot it," said Ballou junior Malik Pelham. "It shows me that he's been through it and he knows right from wrong."


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