6 Performance-Enhancing Drugs More Common Than You Think
When news broke that Lance Armstrong's cycling trophies were being stripped from him because of his use of performance enhancing drugs, the Internet-o-highway erupted in a chorus of finger wagging and tongue clucking. "How dare he cheat at a method of transportation?" it collectively shrieked. "Riding bikes is supposed to be hard!"
"What's that gaping asshole trying to prove, riding his bike up hills?"
But a subset of the Internet, a cooler, more rational, probably more handsome subset, had a different reaction. "Performance-Enhancing Drugs, you say?" we asked, looking up from our morning newspapers and gazing into the middle distance. "As a proven performer, I find that very interesting. I wonder if there are drugs that could improve useful activities instead?"
"I shall become the Lance Armstrong of Haberdashing!"
Seeking, as always, to provide dangerously underresearched advice to our readers, Cracked set to work dangerously underresearching this. And indeed, it turns out that there are several other types of drugs available that can boost a user's performance in any number of ways. Furthermore, many of these drugs are already used, by real professionals in real jobs, probably the same ones who keep beating you in job interviews. So, for the doping-curious among you, here are five of the biggest performance-enhancing drugs you should be injecting into your eyeballs right now.
"Please, please don't take any drugs because of something you read on this, or really any website."
As used by truck drivers, fighter pilots, soldiers, shift workers, journalists, you (probably).
This is a big one, the performance-enhancing drug that about three-quarters of you are probably using right now, if only in one of its most socially acceptable forms.
Assuming it's fair trade coffee of course. If it's not, you can go right to hell.
And, sure, that's just caffeine. But if it makes you more alert (and pleasant to be around), it counts, and, in some instances, is almost a mandatory part of the job. Shift workers, doctors, and anyone else who has to bust their hump late at night are all very familiar with caffeine. Comedy writers, too -- somewhere in the neighborhood of every article Cracked has ever written has involved the consumption of caffeine. Lacking it, who knows how dangerous our advice would be?
""The 8 Most Badass Ways To Rebalance Your Retirement Portfolio? Man, Cracked sucks now."
And then there's the harder stuff. Journalists, the slightly less respectable brethren of comedy writers, have also been known to use stimulants. David Plotz, the editor at Slate, has admitted to boosting his journalistic endurance with Modafinil, a drug used to treat narcolepsy. He claims it makes him twice as productive, which seems a bit of a stretch given Slate's inability to publish badass lists of anything. And let's not forget truck drivers, who were long notorious for their amphetamine consumption, at least until the 1980s, when random drug testing was implemented.
"Now Ronald Reagan says we're not supposed to give you any more Go Pills, so instead, we've got you here a clipboard made entirely out of crystal meth."
Happily for truck-doping enthusiasts, the practice is evidently still common in Brazil, where it is presumably accompanied by hilarious mariachi music.
As used by shift workers, doctors, soldiers.
Kind of the flip-side of stimulants, sedatives are used by many professionals as the off-switch that gets flicked at the end of their busy days. They're especially popular among workers who need stimulants to make it through their shift, only to find themselves staring at the alarm clock at 9 a.m., massively strung out, and needing to get some rest before they can get back to their terrible, terrible jobs.
"What's that, Captain Flashlight? You think $8 an hour might not be worth risking my mental health? Wait a second! You're not Captain Flashlight at all! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL CAPTAIN FLASHLIGHT?"
They're a big thing in the military, as well; the Air Force, which has been using stimulants (or "Go Pills") for at least the past 60 years, gives out sedatives quaintly called "No-Go Pills," and good lord do we hope they're a different color or something.
Red-1: Control, I think I've got a problem here.
Control: What's that Red-1?
Red-1: I think Red-5's been fucking with my pil-
Red-5: Ha ha!
As used by astronauts, scuba divers.
Anti-nausea agents don't need to be explained, do they? They make the user less nauseated. That's what anti means, right?
No, that's "Anty."
Anti-nausea agents are obviously handy for people who work on boats in roughs seas, scuba divers, or really anyone who faces the risk of barfing during the workday.
"Is that- ? Have you been eating Lego?"
More exotically, anti-nausea agents are part of the medical cabinet that's apparently crammed in to every astronaut before each mission. Along with the expected amphetamines (because space is pretty boring) and sedatives (because it also may be filled with terrifying space monsters), every astronaut has a supply of anti-nausea agents like Scopolamine so they don't get barf all over the space station, which would be pretty close to a nightmare to clean up in a micro-g environment.
"NO DON'T THROW DOWN SAWDUST, YOU IDIOT. HOW DID YOU EVEN GET THAT HERE?"
As used by musicians, dancers, actors, surgeons.
Beta blockers are a class of drugs used in the professional medical world to manage heart conditions and high blood pressure. But in the plucky amateur medical world, beta blockers are prized for their anti-anxiety properties, particularly their ability to reduce nervousness and shaking extremities.
Also, sweaty palms.
These effects have made beta-blocker use a common occurrence among professionals whose jobs require calm nerves and steady hands, such as musicians, actors, surgeons, and crooked pool players. We're not kidding about that last one -- common beta blockers like Propranolol are banned by the International Olympic Committee for amateur shooters and archers.
But if you've somehow contrived to become a professional archer, there's nothing to stop you.
As used by soldiers, laborers, you (probably).
Obviously we all suffer minor aches and pains on occasion, due to our hangovers and clumsiness and fight clubs, and it's hardly "performance-enhancing" when we treat these with an Advil or two. Where this does start to become performance enhancing is when the aches and pains are intrinsic to the job, where performance would be expected to suffer because of them, but isn't, because of the painkillers. Much as a boxer who doesn't feel pain would have a tremendous advantage in a fight, a day laborer who could shovel rocks until his arms fell off would be able to work longer and earn more than his peers.
And at $2.50 an hour, that adds up. Really slowly, but it does technically add up.
But the most prominent profession that uses pain-killers to enhance performance is that of a military soldier, who probably takes just about every other drug on this list, as well. It turns out that due to some of the more horrible aspects of their job, soldiers get hurt -- a lot, even if everything goes right. Carrying a heavy pack across several miles of rocks, then unloading that pack to find that, because of some mix-up, it was filled with rocks, and then sleeping on those rocks, is a pretty standard day for many soldiers. And you can be damned sure that doesn't tickle. The resulting bumps and bruises and blisters are inevitably self-medicated with over-the-counter painkillers. Sometimes to excess. Retired soldiers have an alarmingly high rate of substance abuse problems, in part because of all these painkillers. And that's not even considering the big owies they sometimes have to deal with, the ones dealt with by big painkillers, like, for example, these orally administered Fentanyl lozenges, which are essentially morphine lollypops.
If that sounds like fun, consider that if you're ever handed one, it means you're not having a good day.
What's the lesson for you? Well, if pain is a common, even necessary part of your job -- like if you're a teacher or something -- then painkillers can help you perform at your peak levels of adequacy and dull the urge you'll have to look for a better job. Or at least grease the path to your inevitable experimentation with dangerous psychotropics.
"Alright, children. Who wants to go on a freaky magic bus ride?"
As used by dancers.
Diuretics are drugs which make the body expel water, not as you might hope (out of the nose) but rather by modifying kidney functions to increase urine production. These (along with weight loss pills) are regularly used by people who have to weigh themselves for professional reasons, most notably dancers.
Toes: "AHHHHGR! YOU JUST HAD TO HAVE FIVE TACOS LAST NIGHT, DIDN'T YOU!?"
In the world of sport-doping, diuretics are also often used as masking agents, their ability to provoke massive torrents of urine useful for diluting the presence of other performance-enhancing drugs. Now, we're not going to encourage you to mask anything illegal you might have done ...
... but if you ever happen to need to make a lot of urine all at once, say, for your career in German pornography, maybe hook yourself up with some diuretics? Make a name for yourself.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and can get you buddy prices on seriously anything, just ask. Join him on Facebook or Twitter to ensure that an electronic log will be kept of all your future dealings.