Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, May 13, 2016

Employee Spotlight: Michaela Stemmons, MA, ATC – Senior Sport Drug Testing Program Manager

Our people are some of our best assets at Drug Free Sport, with a wide array of experience and professional certifications that are relevant to your work and our industry. We want to introduce you to the great people that we have, including their experiences inside and outside of our company walls. 

Michaela Stemmons is a 14-year member of Drug Free Sport and has touched most individual collegiate drug testing accounts over her tenure. She’s known for her positive, infectious energy. Recently, Michaela traveled more than 8,000 miles to Manila, Philippines, to do her part in making the world a better place. Here's a brief account of her experience:

Halfway across the world in a place that didn’t look, smell, or taste like my own neighborhood, I was reminded to “never doubt that a small group of highly committed and dedicated people can change the world.”  This has now become one of my most favorite life mantras.  Partially adapted from Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist, this quote is the first to grab your attention in the international headquarters of Global Surge, the Christian ministry located in Metro Manila, Philippines. The quote (left) is an encouragement that I will remember often. 

In March 2016, I traveled with a small team of men and women from my hometown church in Parkville, MO.  We trained and prepared for a short-term mission trip that would change our lives forever.  For me, the opportunity gave me hope in the least likely places, allowed my peripheral vision of missions to expand and reminded me not to limit my faith.  I can’t wait to return. 

 While in the Philippines, we worked with multiple, diverse ministries under the larger umbrella of Global Surge: 

  • We were there in the poorest neighborhoods to support Kidzjam, an outreach that taught the kids songs and Bible stories. 
  • We supported one of many feeding centers, where the kids had to medically and financially qualify for assistance.
  • We also attended a graduation of 800, of which 400 had completed their education at the Baptist Bible College Asia, preparing them for a life in ministry. 
  • Additionally, we helped clean and prepare a new gym for Tough Guys International, run by trained martial arts black belts aimed to help troubled and at-risk youth. 
  • On top of these, we supported two local churches started by Global Surge and several missionaries. 
  • We did not make it to a Youth Jam camp event, but this evangelistic ministry may be the most impressive, considering they celebrated their one-millionth camper registration in February! Global Surge has grown tremendously in a short number of years, impacting thousands of lives.  



One of my most favorite opportunities was while helping to clean and prepare a new gym for Tough Guys International.  While I took a break outside, I met three young kids who were wandering the streets, asking for money.  Quickly, they figured out that I didn’t speak any Tagalog (a local language) and I figured out the young boy in the group knew some English.  We spent most of our time teaching each other songs and games such as rock-paper-scissors and naming body parts and articles of clothing.  We laughed a lot, but I was broken when I learned that there was not any food at home for these kids and likely, an absence of parents.  If they weren’t in school, they were helping drivers find parking spots to make money for food or begging for money.  Otherwise, they didn’t eat. 

Michaela (right) with her new friends.

Parts of this trip were very difficult, but in the poorest of places, there still seemed to be communities that were kind, supportive of one another, and looking for hope. There seemed to be brave kids who banded together and still laughed at silly things.  But, it was the Filipino missionaries who also gave me an opportunity to shift my thinking.  They greeted us by asking our names and our ministry.  This was most interesting, considering everyone I know asks about my job or asks about what neighborhood I live in, but not the missionaries.  They just wanted to know how I was planning to make a difference in the world.  So, I figure that I have some important work to do, which includes showing up in places that others won’t and encouraging others.  Overall, the message of Global Surge is clear.  It is to impact, inspire and influence. I don’t see any reason why I can’t do that in my own community.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Amphetamine Misuse For Academic Gain: How Effective Are They?

Contributed by Anna Filardo, Education Program Manager at Drug Free Sport, Inc.

More NCAA student-athletes report using ADHD medications without a prescription compared to those with a prescription and medical diagnosis, according to the 2014 NCAA Substance Abuse Survey. Especially around this time of year, students may misuse or abuse prescription amphetamines such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta to enhance memory and academic performance.

This is of concern to a number of sports organizations as not only are amphetamines banned/prohibited, but also potentially harmful to the athlete’s health. And ultimately, if the athlete does not have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), does the non-medical use of these prescription stimulants actually lead to improved academic outcomes? We decided to investigate. 

Results from the NCAA Substance Abuse Survey.

First, let’s get a few knowledge points out of the way.

Amphetamines are:

  • Occasionally called “speed” or “uppers," are synthetic, psychoactive drugs that are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. 
  • Prescribed to treat narcolepsy, obesity, and attention deficit/hypertension disorder (ADHD). 
  • Considered performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) that delay the onset of (or mitigate) fatigue. 
  • Banned/prohibited stimulants by most, if not all, sports organizations. 
  • Commonly found in dietary supplements, namely those marketed as “pre-workouts," but also hidden in other types of supplements. 
  • Listed on product labels under different names or chemical formulas, causing uncertainty for consumers. (See Box 1 for examples popular ingredients of concern.) 
  • Associated with negative health effects when misused/abused. (See Box 2.)

But, are they effective for improved academic performance?

In 2015, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that ADHD medications provide little to no benefit to those without medical need. In fact, the medication caused a decrease in motivation, and an increase in omission errors when compared to a control group. Amphetamine-users also perceived themselves as having poorer study habits and lower motivation than their non-user counterparts.

The University of Maryland School of Public Health conducted a literature review on non-medical amphetamine use among college-aged students. Their research revealed that non-medical use of amphetamines was also associated with the following characteristics in college-aged students:

  • Excessive drinking and other drug use 
  • Lower GPA 
  • Low perceived harmfulness of using prescription stimulants non-medically 
  • Greater attention difficulties 
  • Psychiatric distress or depressed mood 
  • More likely to skip class 
  • Affiliation with a Greek (fraternity/sorority) organization 
For the full University of Maryland report click here: Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants.

Medical Exceptions for ADHD Medications

The NCAA and World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) do have medical exception processes that athletes may complete should prescription amphetamines be required for a diagnosed medical need. NCAA and WADA athletes will need to fill out the ADHD Medical Exception Reporting Form or the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) form, respectively. The use of amphetamines will cause a positive drug test—and without a current prescription and medical exception, appropriate sanctions will follow.

Amphetamines are more dangerous than perceived and should only be used under the direction of a medical doctor. Prescription amphetamines are Schedule II drugs with considerable potential for abuse and addiction. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, distributing Schedule II stimulants illegally (e.g., sharing or selling pills) is a felony.

If you or a student-athlete have a questions regarding amphetamine use (dietary supplement or medication), please visit www.dfsrec.com or call Drug Free Sport at 877-202-0769.

Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013, Oct. 29). Amphetamines Retrieved from http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/amphetamines.asp
Center on Young Adult Heath and Development, University of Maryland School of Public Health. Retrieved from http://medicineabuseproject.org/assets/documents/NPSFactSheet.pdf
Illeva, I.P., & Farrah, M.J. (2015). Attention, motivation, and study habits in users of unprescribed ADHD medication. Journal of Attention Disorders, 1-13. doi: 10.1177/1087054715591849
Lakhan, S.E., & Kirchgessner, A. (2012). Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain and Behavior
National Collegiate Athletic Association. (2013). [Graph illustration from NCAA substance use survey]. NCAA National Study of Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Substance%20Use%20Final%20Report_FINAL.pdf
Rosenbloom, C.A., & Coleman, E.J. (2012). Sports Nutrition: A practice manual for professionals. United States of America: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.