Beta Blockers are prescription drugs that were originally created to treat high blood pressure and other heart-related conditions.  They have the effect of slowing down the heart rate and promoting relaxation in the user.  Because of this, many people have begun using beta blockers for the purpose of reducing performance anxiety.

In particular, the use of beta blockers has become very widespread among musicians and athletes who wish to combat “stage fright” or to increase their focus when performing, thereby using the drug to enhance their performance. Many students in high schools, colleges, and higher-level education use beta blockers for taking exams, often without a prescription. 

In other words, many people are obtaining beta blockers from friends and peers without their own prescription, and are using them for purposes other than what they were originally intended for. 

Do Beta Blockers Have Any Side Effects?

The use of beta blockers is associated with a number of side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty breathing (they are usually not prescribed to persons with asthma)
  • Coma or loss of consciousness

The risk of these side effects has raised many concerns, since many young persons are obtaining them illegally and using them in high dosages. 

Is it Illegal to Use Beta Blockers?

In general it is legal to use beta blockers so long as you have a prescription and are administering them in the proper dosage.  But as with any prescription medicine, using beta blockers without a prescription may be considered a violation of law and can lead to criminal consequences like fines or even jail time. 

In particular, distributing beta blockers without authorization can lead to very serious federal criminal charges, since most prescription medicines are considered to be controlled substances.  This means that a person should not give beta blockers to friends or accept them from peers.

What if My School Prohibits the Use of Beta Blockers?

You should be aware that many schools and institutions prohibit the non-medical use of beta blockers.  This is because beta blockers are considered to be performance-enhancing drugs, and are prohibited in the policies of many schools.

For example, the non-medical use of beta blockers is considered to be “cheating” at the School of Music at the University of Minnesota.  Other schools enforce suspension or expulsion if students are caught using beta blockers in the wrong way.  Beta blockers are also prohibited in many international and Olympic competitions, especially those involving a high degree of skill like archery and golf.    

If you are a student, performer, or athlete, you should inform your school or institute if you have a valid prescription for the use of beta blockers.  This should prevent you from being disqualified from tests, school events, performances, etc.  But to be safe, you should double-check with authorities regarding the use of beta blockers. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with Beta Blockers?

If you are having issues involving beta blockers and the law, you may wish to speak with a criminal attorney in your area for advice or representation in court.  While beta blocker laws are relatively new, it is important to understand the legal consequences involved in a violation.  Misusing beta blockers or distributing them is illegal and can have very serious legal, academic, and professional consequences.