The number of Western New York college students taking unprescribed stimulants is estimated to be at approximately 12,500.
A statement released by the office of Sen. Charles Schumer said between 15 and 35 percent of the nation's college students are taking the drugs for the purpose of pulling all-night study sessions.
According to the release, the estimated 15 to 35 percent of the nation's college students are frequently using easy-to-obtain stimulants, such as Adderall, as a study tool. The abuse of these "study drugs" without the proper diagnosis can lead to anxiety, depression and even psychosis, the release said.
"It's a matter of health, safety and academic integrity," Schumer said in a conference call with reporters. "This is like academic doping, and it poses some serious risks to our students' health. Kids are putting themselves at risk for an extra few hours of studying and better grades, and it's a dangerous trend in colleges across the country."
Schumer is urging New York state colleges to take measures in tightening the standards they use in the prescription of the drugs to students that actually need them. He pointed out that these measures would provide no impediment to students that have legitimate diagnoses, who can benefit from the medications, but can help colleges to crack down on "fakers" who may be fraudulently obtaining the drugs from friends and university health centers.
One strategy recommended by Schumer was to have colleges require information such as diagnostics and the psychological histories of students that require a prescription for the drugs.
"We must ensure that the students who need this medication have access and help, but we also have to deter abuse," he said. "Any case of drug abuse is one too many, but conservative estimates hold that 15 percent of students in Upstate New York use these drugs each year."
Schumer also recommended that university health centers refrain from prescribing the medications in-house if it becomes apparent that they don't have the available resources to properly monitor who is receiving them.
"If the university clinic does not feel it has the resources, then they shouldn't fill the prescription," he said.
When asked what prompted him to begin looking into the problem, Schumer said his office has been receiving calls from concerned parents throughout the state.
"Parents are worried that these drugs are being (obtained) too easily," he said. "So we started looking in on it, and saw it was more serious than we'd imagined."