Drug Use Among Gamers


Take some time to watch that video I shared.

Okay, good. So, the video is an interview with Semphis of Nihilum Gaming. He’s a professional CS:GO player, openly admitting that he and his team were taking the prescription medication Adderall to improve their gameplay. The interviewer then mentions to the camera that “everyone is on adderall” at Semphis’ tournament. In a discussion on Reddit’s /r/games board, it’s alleged that leaked posts from guilds in World of Warcraft “strongly encourage that raiders use amphetamines.” Back in April, Eurogamer ran an article titled “Winners Might Use Drugs” regarding the amount of drug use among gamers involved in the eSports scene, discussing Adderall among other drugs.

Adderall is an upper. It’s commonly prescribed for things like ADD, but the drug’s ability to focus an individual on a task makes it a widely-used performance enhancing drug. As Adderall is an amphetamine, it’s commonly referred to as just “legal speed,” allowing for faster reflexes and better hand-eye coordination along with the focus. It makes gamers better at their games and staves off the fatigue and boredom that can come with extremely long periods of play.

If performance enhancing drugs are so frowned upon in the traditional sports scene, should they be allowed in the eSports community? A better question might be, could we stop the use of performance enhancing drugs in gaming? I think it needs to be stopped – but how?

Stereotypically, gamers don’t lead the healthiest lives. Adding in unprescribed drug use doesn’t help the stigma, but with such a variety of games that have helped to create eSports as a serious venture, alongside the dozens of new contenders trying to become a serious esport for the exposure and money that can create, we don’t have any kind of central body to deliver these kinds of mandates. Tournaments come in different shapes and sizes, with companies like Riot behind the LCS with League of Legends to the smaller tourneys that just take place at conventions. How can we cover all of them?

Unless one of the larger eSports tournaments begins drug testing, the smaller events can’t suggest an idea for fear of driving their players away. If drug tests were put in place, who is covering the cost? How frequently do we test – before the tournament starts and after it ends? Would that just drive people to another game, or would it become an accepted practice? I’ve only got questions, and I certainly don’t even have all of those. Even if the eSports community develops drug testing, that doesn’t stop MMO players that power through new content with the assistance of amphetamines, reaping financial rewards through sponsorships and their online media accounts.

Were I to make an assumption, I would say that the catalyst for such a change can only begin with Riot Games; as League of Legends is the most widely played game and has the biggest audience, Riot is probably the organization that will have to make the call to start drug testing at professional tournaments. If it becomes an accepted practice there, other tournaments and other games can follow suit with little fear of negative repercussions.

It’s a bit depressing to think that the best players could be popping pills to keep their edge. Even more depressing is the thought that professionals may only have their edge because of their drugs and not because of skill or talent. It isn’t breaking any rules, however, so is it really a problem? I’m not a fan, but perhaps I’m in the minority on this one. Leave a comment down below and share your opinions with us.


About David A. Reeves

David is a 25 year old graduate with a BA in English, and he's wondering how all of this adult stuff crept up on him. He has a large love of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy, a lack of budget sense during Steam sales, and is involved in an abusive relationship with the MMO genre. Outside of gaming, David can be found reading books with swords and magic, suffering from writer's block on that story he said he'd write, enjoying a hookah or a beer with friends, and trying not to say anything inappropriate despite the overwhelming urge. He's an odd fellow.

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