MLB's history of substance abuse: Cocaine, steroids, and Adderall

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By ANDREW MORRIS
College Contributor Network


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MLB Substance Abuse
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MLB's history of substance abuse: Cocaine, steroids, and Adderall
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees in action against the Oakland Athletics during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, : Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs receives congratulations from a fan on the roof of the dugout following his 47th home run of the season during Chicago's 16 August game with the Houston Astros at the Astrodome in Houston, TX. Sosa hit the home run in the fourth inning. AFP PHOTO/PAUL K. BUCK (Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 9: Jose Canseco of the Oakland A's poses for a portrait before a game on April 9, 1997 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 19: Barry Bonds #25 of San Francisco Giants strikes out in the ninth inning, leaving Bonds 0-for-3 with a walk during the game against the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on May 19, 2006 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - CIRCA 1970's: Pitcher Vida Blue #35 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during a circa early 1970's Major League Baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Blue played for the Athletics from 1969-77. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
PHOENIX - MARCH, 1962: Outfielder Willie Mays #24, of the San Francisco Giants, poses for a portrait prior to a Spring Training game in March, 1962 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by: Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Willie Stargell stands in the batter box in Friday night's game against the San Diego Padres in Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. 2, 1980. Stargell plays his first game back in the starting line-up since being injured June 29. The Padres shut the Pirates out, 1-0, in the first of a three game series in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo)
1987: Tim Raines #30 of the Montreal Expos sprints to a second base during a 1987 season game. Tim Raines played for the Montreal Expos from 1979-1990. (Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 31: Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals during the Opening Day game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 31, 1998 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals' Miguel Tejada throws up his hands after flying out to end the first inning against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, August 10, 2013, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz hits an eighth-inning, RBI double that allowed the Phillies Domonic Brown to score in a baseball game ]against the New York Mets in New York, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Davis hit three home runs in the Orioles 9-2 win . (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz delivers against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Flashback to the late 1970's and '80's. Cocaine has gone mainstream, and people are off the rails. Some of these people just happen to be professional baseball players.

In the famous "Pittsburgh Seven" trials of 1985, multiple MLB players testified to cocaine and drug usage before a grand jury. Big time players such as Vida Blue, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, and Tim Raines were all supposedly connected. Raines even declared that he would sometimes slide into first base to make sure his vial of cocaine didn't break in his back pocket. Former 5-time All-Star and MVP Keith Hernandez even threw up the claim -– under oath -- that 40%, yes 40% of MLB players were using cocaine at the time. Whoa.

Now hop in the time travel machine and fast-forward to the late '90's and '00's, otherwise known as the Steroid Era. The advent of the internet and new media outlets help to capture and magnify one of the biggest scandals in all of sports history. Even more A-list superstars get linked to the substance, with the accused including the likes of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.

My whole article could potentially be a list of the players who were a part of the still-ongoing scandal. The severity of these, along with most scandals, is somewhat unclear. The steroid scandal may not have been as pronounced if 24/7 media wasn't there to cover it daily, for years on end.

I'm here to boost awareness for another potentially crippling MLB drug scandal. The drug in question was used in 2012 by one out of every 10 players, that's 105 in total. Adderall (sometimes called greenies) is a type of amphetamine usually given to those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Basically, the drug helps users to focus in at highly powerful levels -– so high that league executives put the drug on the banned performance-enhancing drug list (right next to cocaine and various brands of steroids).

In any game, players will always try to gain a slight advantage over their opponent in whatever way possible. It's just the nature of sport. If cocaine is banned, then steroids are on deck. Once steroids are locked down, other drugs are secretly used to get a leg up. In this case, Adderall is the next one up.

It makes sense. Baseball is a game that requires intense focus for just a short amount of time between long periods of rest. There were rumors that clubhouses had a bowl of greenies right by the door before games -– take a pill, grab the glove, and run out there. It can get pretty difficult to stay focused and energized for a 1:07 p.m. game the day after the 8:07 p.m. game ended after midnight the night before.

For example, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was one of eight players to get hit with a suspension in 2012. The guy was locked in the squat, day after day for 114 games -- it makes sense. Later, Ruiz got an exemption from the league to go ahead and use it.

About a month ago, Chris Davis of the Orioles was suspended 25 games for the drug. Baltimore couldn't use the 2013 home run king in the playoffs this season because of the punishment. Miguel Tejada was punished in 2013 for greenies, too. Boston starter Clay Buchholz said this year that he had been using the drug since 2011. I sense a brewing scandal.

It was hinted at, but some of these players, like Buchholz and Ruiz, have exemptions from the league to use Adderall. MLB has actually been increasing the number of exemptions handed out to players each year since 2007. If we're being honest, it's just as easy nowadays to get a doctor's prescription for Adderall, as it is to ask him to try on his stethoscope. Someone's ability to focus is pretty hard to quantify if you're testing him or her to see if they need the drug.

It'll be interesting to see how MLB deals with this issue in the upcoming years and how it compares to the other drug scandals with which they've previously dealt. Do league executives try to crack down on usage and exemptions at some point? Or do they roll the dice by going ahead and allowing it to be used with a prescription?

Just like the rise of ADHD diagnoses in children and young adults, the number of MLB players "needing" adderall can't be ignored.


Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123
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