Performance enhancing drugs

Performance enhancing drugs

Hello all. Long time lurker, first time poster.

This might seem a bit off, and probably a little taboo. I am wondering if anyone or someone they knows makes use of substances, legal or otherwise, to improve their playing. I play the whistle and flute in a touring band and I find that I cannot get loose enough without a couple drinks. Otherwise, completely sober, I find that I overthink the playing and end up fumbling or fat fingering it. (If you are offended by drug use, you should probably not read the next sentence.) Recently I have broken through my speed ceiling by doing a couple lines of coke before I play. I have found I can play with better accuracy and more complex creativity when improvising. I’m not condoning the use of drugs or substances, but I am curious if anyone else has any experience or advice on the matter. Professional sports have banned the use of certain performance enhancing drugs for the reason that they *do* enhance performance.

Thoughts?

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

You just told everyone that you do coke…

Personally, I think music is intoxicating enough. I broke through my "speed ceiling" when playing with faster musicians. I’ve never needed drugs to help me improvise. Also, don’t forget about your altered state of consciousness. You might think you sound good…

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HBcVbV6_Vwc

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

You must be independently wealthy.

The act of practicing itself, on the other hand, is habit forming but has no known side effects. It is free, and the only thing that will improve your performance.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Heh, funny.
Only thing I can advice to enhance performance is practice and relaxing.
Enjoying your playing on a different level than "Awesome, I’m playing beautiful music," however.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I’ve smoked weed and then played music before, I find it a wonderful experience. I prefer my music straight, though. Playing stoned is a "treat" for myself sometimes, because of how easily the tunes flow and the general feel of it.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

HK that was great lol. I forgot Bill Cosby did stand up.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I think you are foolish to take illegal drugs and even more foolish to admit it on the internet.

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

There are no drugs that will "enhance" your performance, however much you try to kid yourself. Try recording it, and then listen to it sober.

(I realise that Jerone has already said something of the sort.)

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Ben, all of that plus something else.

Use narcotics in the US and get caught. The rest of your life will be one long session of nothing but misery.

BTW there is nothing that can improve your performance other than lots of practice and expert tuition.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Dear Nope, I thought your post was completely reasonable and well stated. You asked a question, cited personal experience, and didn’t recommend anything to anybody. As the oldest pothead in Co Clare and a veteran of 1960s Berkeley, I say feck the begrudgers. Have fun with your drugs. Such legal substances as alcohol, trans fats and tobacco are, mutatis mutandi, far more dangerous than cocaine or silly weed.
There is, of course, too much of something. I enjoy a pint when I play out, sometimes (maybe mostly) two, but any more than that and I don’t enjoy my playing. Blues on the guitar with a bit of dope is fun but this is not the case for me with Irish trad, though I know plenty of players who play mighty stuff after a bit of smoke.
The relevance of performance enhancing drugs in sports is perhaps more relevant to playing music than has been admitted here. However, it isn’t enough just to take the drug if you expect to be competitive. It might give you an edge but you have to be pretty damn good to begin with. And as you know, that entails determination, discipline, and endless hours of focused practice.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Though I have heard CCE are bringing in random drugs testing for the Fleadh this year. Fail both your A and your B sample and you’re out, no repeats.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

This sentence says a lot: "I play the whistle and flute in a touring band and I find that I cannot get loose enough without a couple drinks."

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Use narcotics in the US and get caught. The rest of your life will be one long session of nothing but misery"

Since I’ve started working in the factory I’ve heard this story, a lot. About drugs and alcohol. DUI’s, DWI’s, high fines for drug possession, community service, jail time, prison time, loss of scholarships, expulsion, Not to mention the affects all of this has on your family and friends.

At our job, if you get hurt and fail a drug test, you aren’t covered on your health insurance, you can’t sue the company, your family can’t sue the company. All that wood, metal, and concrete, and the thousands of severing machines, you wanna make sure you’re covered if you get hurt.

Stay away from the coke man. If you "need" coke to play music, you’re probably just not musical(see thread https://thesession.org/discussions/33961 )

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

A curious sentence:

"Recently I have broken through my speed ceiling by doing a couple lines of coke before I play. I have found I can play with better accuracy and more complex creativity when improvising. I’m not condoning the use of drugs or substances…"

You just said that you do drugs and that it makes you play better - how is that not condoning it?

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Hmm, water, orange juice, tea or coffee is usually enough for me 🙂

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

You’ll hear many hilarious stories of folks playing to packed halls, "stoned out of our heads" on various chemicals. I often wonder why you never hear the story told by the poor punter who has paid for a music event, but got a feed of introverted sloppy mush instead?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

The idea of needing to loosen up in some way before playing is not uncommon, but I’ve never heard anyone say that indulging in the hard stuff was a good idea in the long run.
As has already been said above, try playing stoned and record yourself, then play it back when you’re sober.
I know some people swear by the beta-blockers, and far better a legitimate drug than an illegal one. Or there might be hypnosis to get you over the hump of nerves, because that is basically what it is.
I do know one very experienced professional who said that after anything but the mildest and lightest snort of anything the only person thinking you are playing better is yourself.

Re: "far better a legitimate drug than an illegal one"

Why better? Compare the fatalities from alcohol or tobacco with those from marijuana. Or do you refer here to incarceration? Because that is changing and soon marijuana, like alcohol, will be legal. Would that make it "better," being legitimate? I’d prefer a relatively harmless illegal drug to a harmful "legitimate" drug.
Abuse of any substance that results in harm to society costs us all money. By that token, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and trans fats should be monitored and perhaps made illegal. But I really don’t like the idea of a nanny state.
Get a grip, people. Moderate drug use (coffee, tea, alcohol, marijuana) is not harmful to anybody. It can be fun. I I see little difference between the occasional toke or two and the occasional pint or two.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Get a grip, David, the OP is talking about snorting Cocain! It is one of the deadliest and most addictive drugs out there.. Why do pot heads always come along with the cannabis is not as dangerous as tobacco and alcohol and soon it will be legal statement in any drug related discussion.. This is Cocain we are talking about, people!

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Typical consumerism. It’s not like cocaine manufacture and trafficking has a high social cost or anything.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

True Ketil. Cocaine can be dangerous. But anything can be addictive. I was answering the bit about legitimate vs illegal drugs.
The OP says "a couple lines of coke." Assuming average strength of fairly pure coke, that would keep me up for two days. Yes, coke is dangerous. It is delightful (like sunshine on a cloudy day) but for me it’s too risky to play with. As with nearly any drug, addiction is as much a characteristic of the user as the drug itself.
"…pot heads always come along with the cannabis is not as dangerous as tobacco and alcohol and soon it will be legal statement in any drug related discussion" because it’s the truth. That said, it would be better if all drugs were legalized. Any drug is available to just about anybody. The worst part of it is that you can be sent to jail for having a joint in your pocket or for snorting a bit of cocaine. But for driving drunk or running a red light, infinitely worse, you’ll get a fine.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Cocaine will, at least in the very early stages on the path to addiction, improve psychomotor function as will other stimulants legal and illegal. Meth-amphetamines will do much the same with similar destructive effects medium and long term. Methyl-phenidate (Ritalin) is being increasing used in the US for the much over-diagnosed "Attention Deficit Disorder" (ADD). These stimulants, popular amongst college students doing all nighters prior to exams, will enhance psychomotor function and the users will probably experience improved performance (at least initially until the many destructive effects begin to take hold).

Patients with true ADD (if it exists) take Ritalin day after day, year after year, It will be a great aid in all tasks which require intense concentration. At the prescribed doses it is a fairly safe prescription drug. In the US it has become very popular for parents who can afford to buy the psychologist willing to make the diagnosis of AAD. With that diagnosis comes many benefits under the American with Disability Act. For instance, the children are allowed much more time to take tests (SATs, high school exams and even law or medical exams). The recipients of the test scores are not allowed to know the test taker had more time than anyone else.

Propranolol is a so-called Beta-Blocker that has been used by some to alleviate pre-performance anxiety. It blocks the physiological effects of increased adrenalin (the fight or flight hormone). So the performer does not experience the rapid, pounding heart beat, sweating, and overall nervousness that they experience without the prescription drug. For some performers (musicians/public speakers) it is a very helpful aid until the pre-performance anxiety has been alleviated by the experience and maturation of the performer as it almost always does (with or without the drug). This prescription medicine is relatively safe and very effective. It almost the opposite of the stimulants mentioned above.

Alcohol of course can take the edge of a bit but the point of psychomotor retardation takes comes very quickly.

Tom Connelly, MD
Stuart FL

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Such legal substances as alcohol, trans fats and tobacco are, mutatis mutandi, far more dangerous than cocaine."

"Yes, coke is dangerous. It is delightful (like sunshine on a cloudy day) but for me it’s too risky to play with."

So I assume you drink no alcohol and eat no trans fats, correct?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

As for statements like "you might [only] think you sound good" or "try playing stoned and record yourself, then play it back when you’re sober", well, if you’re suffering from stage fright, considering to sacrifice a certain amount of your skills for the required self-confidence doesn’t seem inappropriate to me. With all that adrenaline in your body you might play even worse. It’s nothing new to influence your bodies with various substances anyway; if you’ve got a headache you take painkillers, if you can’t sleep you take a sleeping pill, if you’re overly nervous on stage you have a drink. As long as you’re reasonable enough to outweigh the risks — and the OP did sound quite reasonable to me — there’s nothing wrong with any drug per se.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

We’re all musicians here right? Then we all have some knowledge about chemical brain patterns correct? Good.

The problem with all drugs, no matter how legal or illegal, is the chemical effect they have on your brain to make you dependent of them. And it’s not a, "Oh that taste good, I want some more of that" dependence. It’s a, "Why won’t my body stop hurting? Where did all this pain come from? Why can’t I sleep? Am I still itching? I can’t stop itching! My chest is caving in! I wanna be numb! I need to be numb! I need to make this pain go away!" dependence.

But not only do they make you dependent of them, they kill you at the same time. This is serious stuff not to be taken lightly, for real people.

The most dangerous thing about addiction is not knowing when you’re becoming addicted. Get off the crack OP.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Interesting post. I still want to record myself stoned and then sober and see how it goes.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I appreciate all of the comments. I want to apologize to anyone I might have offended; it certainly wasn’t my aim.

To clarify a few things: I don’t drink to excess. A couple pints and I’m good to go, but any more than that and my playing gets sloppy. I understand this and respect it when playing, although I am not a heavy drinker, besides. Certainly I never get drunk, and especially when I am playing. As for the other stuff it is in moderation. I have no interest in testing the point of diminishing returns.

The motivation behind my post is that I was (and I feel some of you here might be) surprised at what some of the bigger festival touring bands do behind the scenes.

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Most of the people I play with are on drugs - Lipitor, Crestor, Clopidogrel and based upon the silly grin of our bodhran player, possibly Viagra as well.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Coke is a bad idea…..

Unless u are in Rome or Columbia, I’d say it prob isn’t even coke.

Always stay within the legal perimeters of the law for the prosperity of your ppl who need u

Experiment with weed after it is legal in your jurisdiction, u have 10000 hours of practice in, you have a university education, a smoking hot husband or wife and a pot to piss in.

Meditate

Posted .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Use narcotics in the US and get caught. The rest of your life will be one long session of nothing but misery"

This is true to an extent, but the darkness of your complexion does seem to make a difference in how miserable you’ll be. Our prisons aren’t overflowing with middle-class white guys caught doing coke…

As for drugs, do whatever you want, but I find it hard to imagine you’re much better on them. And does playing in a trad band really make enough money to fuel a coke habit?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

You’re kidding me. Cocaine less dangerous than trans fat?

Drug abuse, and the general attitude of intoxication-as-necessity are one of the greatest plagues in the western world. They speak to a depth of personal shallowness, selfishness, and recklessness that will appall future sociologists and healthcare workers. Come to that, they overwhelm people in these professions right now.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

The key here is that this person just has gotten help from coke.. Like with everyone else, it may work for a while.. but, soon, everything will start to suffer.. Remember what Chet Baker looked like before he died?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Unless u are in Rome or Columbia, I’d say it prob isn’t even coke. "

Wow! You have to go to the capital of Italy or a distinguished New York educational institution for the real thing?

Now I understand why there’s such competition for admission to Ivy League universties.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Both my stepbrother and a friend I’ve known for over 30 years had their lives destroyed by coke. I don’t just mean they lost their jobs - they lost their homes, their families (who they parasitized to get money for coke, leaving THEM homeless and broke), everything. And despite lots of therapy and rehab, they backslide all the time, requiring them to parasitize total strangers - you know, steal stuff for money for coke.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

It’s one of those topics that brings out the weird, passionate, and reactionary views of everyone — like the law of gravity or asking if you should noodle in sessions.

Do drugs improve noodling?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Do drugs improve noodling?"

I don’t know about that but the users/noodlers will probably be less likely to stop themselves….

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I am a noodler. :( However, I try to make up for it by buying rounds of drinks, so I’m usually well tolerated.

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

The only thing I have seen drugs improve is people’s opinion of their playing—not the playing itself. And like folks have said, the long term impacts can be nasty. Just say no…

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money." (Robin Williams)

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I’m very glad I quit drinking before I started learning the concertina. I think I never would have made it this far in 2 years had I been drinking while playing. I uesd to drink a bit and play drums in a pop/rock band—in that case I had already learned to play and didn’t have any issues, but to not be clear while learning I think would be a mistake.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Louis Armstrong liked his "muggles". I’m with him.

Posted by .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Yeah, and Chet Baker liked his smack and blow. Why can’t this thread just die the death it so richly deserves?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I’ve played Trad for the past sixty years mostly for the the ‘craic’ so who am I to criticise…………

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Hmm, did someone tell you craic is synonymous with "pints"? I’ve seen a piper I respect enormously say drink is Ireland’s greatest social ill. I don’t live there so can’t testify, but there it is. I enjoy a pint myself, and don’t really begrudge anyone the seductive burning-dunghill pong and black tarry lungs of weed either, but this thread boils down to a few points IMO:

1) Do drugs enhance performance? For anyone who’s tried it, the *honest* answer is a firm "no". Bad for your timing, bad for your pitch, bad (as mentioned by others) for a realistic perception of how well you’re doing, bad for you reflexes and relationship to space. And your liver, lungs, brain, kidneys, endocrine and immune systems, etc etc. Ask a doctor, don’t take my word for it.

2) Should you take those drugs anyway, even if they did enhance performance (which - again - they don’t)? Is it worth it to risk addiction and long-term health problems, and profligately blow your money? I won’t even mention the law since undoubtedly advocates will use it as a reason to legalize, as addicts everywhere do. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on better instruments, lessons, a trip to Ireland (or wherever)? If not, ask yourself WHY - wherefore this need to get high? If reality bores you, maybe you need help.

3) It is disappointing to the point of despair to even see the subject brought up in an ITM forum. I expect to see that kind of thing and worse at e.g. the 7-String Shredder’s Grindcore Forum, or the Zombie Apocalypse Dubstep Forum, but this is just truly sad. Ah well, addiction is its own punishment, so enough from me.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

Alcohol consumption and its associated fallout is definitely a social issue, but from my own experience (I have no statistics to back this up) not much more so than in many other places. I have personally lived in the UK and Canada and at least the folks I met seemed to drink much as the people I know in Ireland. I have known a lot of Australians and from their accoumts Australia seems to have quite a drink culture too. Maybe it’s a feature of much of the English speaking world. Much of Eastern Europe too seems to have boozing fairly ingrained in their cultures, but I am only going on anecdotal evidence there.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

"I’ve seen a piper I respect enormously say drink is Ireland’s greatest social ill."

That sounds very plausible (that and country music, at any rate 😉).

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

…but if it is less true here in the UK, it is only because of competition from other social ills.

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

What social ills would those be, CM?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

you are an idiot if you take cocaine.

Posted .

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

I think the idea that you need to take hard drugs to play good traditional music is silly. OP, wouldn’t you rather just get over your stage fright and learn to loosen up and relax naturally? It might take a little longer, but it will be more rewarding in the long run, don’t you think?

Re: Performance enhancing drugs

It all started with listening to Planxty and the Bothy Band, next thing I bought a whistle, then I found myself learning one tune after another, then I started venturing out to the occasional session which slowly grew to once or more per week, and before I knew it I was addicted to craic. Kids, when someone offers you a loan of a trad recording or a blow of a whistle, just SAY NO!