Beta-blocker posts [split & moved from original]

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by CaharleyFarley, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    ..............Gosh, surely no-one in the Brass Band movement would stoop to using drugs to enable them to compete better at competitions - that would be like cheating wouldn't it............???

    Oh....what a sheltered life you lead......

    As with other sports where composure and concentration are important - archery and rifle shooting for example - Beta blockers have been used for this purpose in band competitions for many years to improve on-stage concentration and to limit the effects of 'nerves'. They act by inhibiting some of the effects of adrenaline, with the main effect being a slower heart rate.

    I haven't tried them myself (even though I have ready access to them) and I certainly wouldn't recomend anyone else to - they can cause potentially fatal heart problems if used in the wrong situations.

    My impression from knowing others that HAVE used them is that to some extent they are a placebo anyway - tell someone that they have just taken a magic pill that will stop them having nerves and they will believe it.
  2. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    They might not actually work for calming nerves except by suggestion, but they are certainly not really placebos. A placebo is a pill with NO actual effects that induces a psychosomatic effect by suggestion to the person taking it. Beta blockers are actual drugs with actual effects that are intended to treat serious conditions such as hypertension and congestive heart failure.

    Taking a drug that affects the electrical pathways in your heart (which is the "beta" that's being blocked) without consultation with a physician is stunningly stupid.:|
  3. Big Fella

    Big Fella Member

    A member of the trombone section in a band that I used to play for, used them at every contest and concert the played played at.
    The person claimed that they definately worked for them and the only side effect was drying up on stage, which they got round by taking a bottle of water on stage......
  4. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    Note to tMPers - don't even go there! ;)
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... got to agree that beta blockers should only be administered under strict medical supervision. I found a link which fits nicely with Roger Webster's introduction to performance anxiety on 4barsrest. It's here and in plain English for those with no academic medical background....
  6. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    This subject came up in the bandroom just last night. It surprised me how acceptable people seem to think it is. Not only is it dangerous without consulting your GP, i also think that it's a bit unfair, after all you are taking a performance enhancing drug... Like sport, being able to cope with the pressure is all part of the skill. Its a shame a ban would be totally impractical!
  7. yorkie19

    yorkie19 Active Member

    I've never used them, but I know of plenty of people who do take beta blockers before contests and concerts. Personally speaking, I can't see anything wrong with it, it comes down to individual preference.

    Being able to cope with the pressure is nothing to do with skill. It has everything to do with psychological makeup.
  8. Spanky Rear

    Spanky Rear Member


    Betablockers are relatively new. The most popular drug to help with nerves and anxiety has been,and probably still is,alcohol. I know many players who depend on it to calm their nerves.
  9. Dan

    Dan Member

    I don't see what the problem is with taking these. I don't personally, did once about 10 years ago but that was because I was so petrified about going on stage I don't think I would have made it on without something to calm me down.

    If people want to take them so what? I really don't agree that they are 'performance enhancing'.

    If you have never, felt sick, nervous and not been able to sleep for weeks before a contest, been plastered in a rash from head to toe before going on stage, shaking so much that you can't hold your instrument (or worse your sticks - especially if you are trying to play glock!), an increased heart rate so fast that you think your heart might pump itself right out of your chest, then maybe it wouldn't occur to you that all they do is help alleviate some of these physical symptoms. Pathetic? Yeah maybe, but people with performance anxiety don't do it on purpose!

    I have tried to control my excessive nerves and stage fright over the years and am getting a little better :rolleyes: The calming influence and encouragment of the players in my new band certainly helps and I find that having a good breakfast helps. The reason I do not take Beta Blockers is because I do not want to become dependent on needing a tablet to get me through a performance, where does it end? But I certainly would not have a problem with someone that does need to take them.

    If players using Beta Blockers get banned from contests then there will be a huge percentage of bands people unable to compete! And that is not even including the people that take them for legitimate reasons - like Thyroid disorders and many more.
  10. bassinthebathroom

    bassinthebathroom Active Member

    Have got to agree that, whilst in most cases Beta Blockers are safe, obviously different people react differently to medication, and I certainly wouldn't take them without prescription.
    As it happens, I do know musicians who use them for prescribed medical reasons....
  11. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I've used them under prescription - but not for banding stuff.
  12. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    I would not be without them.

    They keep you calm and no nerve shaking or your Heart doing 1000 beats to the second(WELL thats what it feels like):-D
    Just hope the banding organisation DO NOT BRING IN DRUG TESTING for us who take them:rolleyes:
  13. Sellers_Bird

    Sellers_Bird Active Member

    QUOTE....Beta blockers are prescription medications for good reason. There are several conditions, such as slow heart rate, bronchial asthma, and heart failure, which can cause serious medical problems, even death, when taking this medication.

    and lets jus hope that no banders die at contests from taking them without medical supervision :(
  14. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    This subject has come up several times in various threads since I have been a member of tmp.I note that several people in the above thread have posted (quite sensibly) warnings about these drugs.

    I don't want to be seen as a BOC , having already said this a couple of times already , but Beta Blaockers are not drugs to be toyed with.They have a direct effect on cardiac function (i e the heart ) and also the blood vessels around the body , including the brain and renal system. DO NOT MESS WITH THESE UNLESS PRESCRIBED .

    I'm the senior nurse for cardiology / cardiac surgery at a central London teaching hospital - not trying to pull rank on anyone but these drugs are extremely dangerous unless used appropriately.Do not take the risk.
  15. I honestly did post this thread to try to discover how widespread the use of BBs is......It is widespread..........

    For certain. without prescription, BBs are a killer.

    But having watched many threads on this subject on TPIN, there are GPs there that do advocate the use of them - " why should a good player be destroyed by stage fright?" That is a good point.

    "the dose required to reduce nerves is ten times lower than for heart peeps" etc etc etc......yet another good point.

    I did often wonder about those solists that performed so well - i wondered "did they take one". I am sure that they did.

    Having read the first part of R Websters' class on 4 bars rest.......... he approaches "stage fright" right at the start....... it must have been a prob for him therefore he is teaching how to cope/live with it. Either that or he knows from experience that that is the problem that most of us will want to know about........

    For myself - I did seriously consider it about 18 months ago - but heeded the advise of my friends and teacher (Roddy).
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    re:Roger Webster Article

    Really needing to get a close look at the detail he is offering.... maybe have to buy the book! A third factor that needs to be noticed is that of shock or freezing, the inability to respond because of panic or anxiety attacks. Much research has been covered in situations where individuals just shut down and cannot organise or execute a response to a threatening situation (e.g., wars, natural and man-made disasters). It is not a simple dichotomy of fight or flight.
  17. ted

    ted Member

    I too was shocked when I found out that bandies use Beta Blockers to combat anxiety. I know that shooters have tried use them to keep their hands perfectly still and they're banned in that sport.

    I think players use them to stop the "Natural Vibrato" that kicks in during quiet, exposed solos.

  18. Sellers_Bird

    Sellers_Bird Active Member

    lets not talk about vibrato... we all know what happened last time! :(
  19. davidsait

    davidsait Member

    Inhibit the effects of adrenaline? No thanks - adrenaline is one of the reasons I play!

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