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Nashville, TN - Study: ADHD Medicines Help Curb Criminal Behavior

Published on: November 21, 2012 11:45 PM
By: AP
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Nashville, TN - Older teens and adults with attention deficit disorder are much less likely to commit a crime while on ADHD medication, a provocative study from Sweden found.

It also showed in dramatic fashion how much more prone people with ADHD are to break the law — four to seven times more likely than others.

The findings suggest that Ritalin, Adderall and other drugs that curb hyperactivity and boost attention remain important beyond the school-age years and that wider use of these medications in older patients might help curb crime.

“There definitely is a perception that it’s a disease of childhood and you outgrow your need for medicines,” said Dr. William Cooper, a pediatrics and preventive medicine professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “We’re beginning to understand that ADHD is a condition for many people that really lasts throughout their life.”

He has researched ADHD but had no role in the new study, which was led by Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The findings were published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

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About 5 percent of children in the U.S. and other Western countries have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which can cause impulsive behavior and difficulty paying attention. Many youngsters are given medication to help them sit still and focus in school. Some people have symptoms into adulthood.

“It’s well known that individuals with ADHD have much higher rates of criminality and drug abuse than people without ADHD,” but the effect of treatment on this is not well known, Lichtenstein said.

Using Swedish national registers, researchers studied about 16,000 men and 10,000 women ages 15 and older who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The country has national health care, so information was available on all drugs prescribed.

Court and prison records were used to track convictions from 2006 through 2009 and see whether patients were taking ADHD drugs when their crimes were committed. A patient was considered to have gone off medication after six months or more with no new prescription.

For comparison purposes, researchers matched each ADHD patient with 10 similar people without the disorder from the general population.

They found:

— About 37 percent of men with ADHD were convicted of at least one crime during that four-year period, compared with just 9 percent of men without ADHD. For women, the crime rates were 15 percent with ADHD and 2 percent without it.

— Use of ADHD medicines reduced the likelihood of committing a crime by 32 percent in men and 41 percent in women.

The crimes were mostly burglaries or thefts. About 4,000 of more than 23,000 crimes committed were violent. ADHD medication use reduced all types of crime, Lichtenstein said.

Cooper called the results striking. “I was surprised by the magnitude of the effect of the medications and the fact that it was so consistent across all the analyses they did,” such as the type of drug being used and the types of crimes committed, he said.

The Swedish Research Council, the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Wellcome Trust and other agencies paid for the research.

ADHD medicines may help people organize their lives better and reduce impulsive behavior. They also bring a patient into counseling and health care, said Philip Asherson, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

“It’s not necessarily just the medication” that is reducing the likelihood of crime, he said.

Still, Asherson said the study should lead to wider use of the drugs: “It firmly establishes the link between ADHD and criminality and establishes that medication has an impact on that criminality.”
___

Online: www.nejm.org


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 22, 2012 at 01:07 AM Anonymous Says:

Handcuffs will also reduce crime.. Doesn't mean we have right handcuff kids.. Just for being kids.. Stupid study. Drugging children for their behavior is wrong. Period.

2

 Nov 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM MOM Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Handcuffs will also reduce crime.. Doesn't mean we have right handcuff kids.. Just for being kids.. Stupid study. Drugging children for their behavior is wrong. Period.

You obviously don't have a child with ADHD. And never had to make that decision to medicate your child when all else failed. How judgemental and insensitive of you to make this comment.

3

 Nov 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM DAD Says:

Reply to #2  
MOM Says:

You obviously don't have a child with ADHD. And never had to make that decision to medicate your child when all else failed. How judgemental and insensitive of you to make this comment.

I DO have a child with so called ADHD and I still stand by my first comment! Adhd is not a disease and does not require meds. Its behavior, and its wrong to medcate behavior and insert chemicals in young childrens brains just to make it easier for parents and teachers. Its the EASY way out! There are better ways to deal with these behavior issues for example more love, more patience, and better nutriotion. Often these kids have food sensitivities to gluten and suger.. Try elminating those and see what happens.

4

 Nov 22, 2012 at 12:05 PM BeenDere Says:

Adults I know who suffer with ADHD say that the medications are a blessing. They are able to focus, be productive and not spend their life in a haze of disorganziation, losing time, and running around in circles trying to focus to get things done. Many people don't realize that this is a real illness and not just something people can get over by themselves with self-discipline.

5

 Nov 22, 2012 at 01:50 PM Butterfly Says:

To #3 I agree with you. Diet is very important. Especially the amount of SUGAR!! It is a killer. It makes your kids HYPER to begin with. Watch the amount of sugar your kids intake. How many cups of soda do they drink??? Change to water or juice. Limit the juice. All juices even though they say "NO sugar added" Have Natural sugar. Let the kids drink at the end of the meal. It will not kill them!!Them fill up on healthy food and not sugars!!

6

 Nov 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM blahblah Says:

Reply to #3  
DAD Says:

I DO have a child with so called ADHD and I still stand by my first comment! Adhd is not a disease and does not require meds. Its behavior, and its wrong to medcate behavior and insert chemicals in young childrens brains just to make it easier for parents and teachers. Its the EASY way out! There are better ways to deal with these behavior issues for example more love, more patience, and better nutriotion. Often these kids have food sensitivities to gluten and suger.. Try elminating those and see what happens.

Who told you your kid had it, a medical doctor, or his first grade rebbe? My brother has real ADHD, and yes, my parents tried everything you listed and more before resorting to medication, which has been nothing short of a miracle for my entire family. As a mom of 4 leibidig kids of my own k'h, I have seen the stark contrast between kids being kids and what my brother has- it is so completely beyond the pale of normal behavior, requiring far more than tinkering with parenting tricks and diet. Are there a lot of people who take these drugs unnecessarily? Of course. But don't you ever judge those in true need until you've really been there.

7

 Nov 22, 2012 at 02:15 PM esther Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Handcuffs will also reduce crime.. Doesn't mean we have right handcuff kids.. Just for being kids.. Stupid study. Drugging children for their behavior is wrong. Period.

this study is about older teens and adults.

8

 Nov 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM Similar to Autism, drugs not great but nec. Says:

I am not stating that the diseases are related but the behavior is often similar. It is sometimes impossible to control behavior without resorting to meds. There are shortfalls to using these meds and some behavior meds can cause lethargy, weight gain and diabetes (DM).

9

 Nov 22, 2012 at 07:21 PM MOM Says:

Reply to #3  
DAD Says:

I DO have a child with so called ADHD and I still stand by my first comment! Adhd is not a disease and does not require meds. Its behavior, and its wrong to medcate behavior and insert chemicals in young childrens brains just to make it easier for parents and teachers. Its the EASY way out! There are better ways to deal with these behavior issues for example more love, more patience, and better nutriotion. Often these kids have food sensitivities to gluten and suger.. Try elminating those and see what happens.

You're child obviously doesn't have what you call "supposedly ADHD" like someone questioned, if he was correctly diagnosed. No amount of love, patience and curbing sugar will change impulsivity and behavior of a child with ADHD. Their brains are wired different. If you were able to change your child's impulsivity, attention and behavior then he is not ADHD. Don't confuse a "leibedig" kid with someone who is correctly diagnosed. And to the one who commented on giving kids sugar....you obviously don't have a child with ADHD as well. Parents of ADHD kids usually do not feed soda and sugar to their kids and don't use meds to cover for that.....EDUCATE YOURSELF.

10

 Nov 22, 2012 at 07:31 PM MOM Says:

Reply to #8  
Similar to Autism, drugs not great but nec. Says:

I am not stating that the diseases are related but the behavior is often similar. It is sometimes impossible to control behavior without resorting to meds. There are shortfalls to using these meds and some behavior meds can cause lethargy, weight gain and diabetes (DM).

So true. Kids with ADHD are very similar to high functioning autistic kids. People think ADHD means that a kid is just wild and neads to be tamed. They judge the parents that they don't give them enough love, attention, patience and fill them up with sugar. How hurtful for a parent who has tried everything, no parent wants to medicate their kid and usually makes thay decision as a last desperate resort.

11

 Nov 22, 2012 at 09:35 PM ShmuelG Says:

To my mind, the real promise of these medications is that they can probably reduce criminal behavior of young males who don't have ADHD. If so, and since we know very well which boys are statistically likely to grow into criminals, giving them Ritalin preemptively will solve many of our society's problems.

12

 Nov 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM esther Says:

Reply to #8  
Similar to Autism, drugs not great but nec. Says:

I am not stating that the diseases are related but the behavior is often similar. It is sometimes impossible to control behavior without resorting to meds. There are shortfalls to using these meds and some behavior meds can cause lethargy, weight gain and diabetes (DM).

actually the 2 conditions are genetically related. the shame isn't only that too many parents put their kids on meds but that so many who need to refuse which causes the entire family to needlessly suffer.

13

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