Monday, January 12, 2009

What constitutes a fidget?

This great article by the great William Saletan notes that there's been a huge increase in diagnosis of ADHD among professional baseball players since rules were established requiring a diagnosis in order to take stimulants (otherwise, it is using performance enhancing drugs):
Three years ago, the league belatedly banned stimulants on the grounds that they unfairly aided players' performance. At the time, 28 players had "therapeutic use exemptions" allowing them to take drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall. "Therapeutic use" means you can justifiably use the drug because you need it for a medical condition...The number of players claiming and obtaining "therapeutic use" exemptions for stimulants nearly quadrupled from 28 to 103. The basis of their claims? They all had attention "deficit" disorder. Accordingly, they were entitled to attention-boosting drugs.
Here's my question. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, whatever symptoms one exhibits must be present "in two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home)" and must result in "clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning." So, unless we've got a lot of pro baseball players going to school, symptoms must be present at "work" and affect "occupational functioning." It seems as though the medical condition is not being as good at baseball as you'd be without the drugs. But taking the drugs isn't "performance enhancing"? Hmmm. Title reference (for some reason?) here.

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