Crime, ADHD, & Medication

Study by: Paul Lichtenstein, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden

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A new Swedish study says that ADHD people who take medication for symptom control may be less likely to commit crimes. Previous research has indicated that people with ADHD are more likely to have substance abuse issues, are likely to experience difficulty in school, maintain a steady job, and sustain personal relationships. Previous research also indicates that they are also at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and may be more likely commit crimes. Paul Lichtenstein, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden studied more than 25,650 people with ADHD. Lichtenstein and his associates then compared medication history with criminal records from 2006 to 2009.They found the during times when they were taking medication for ADHD, men were 32% less likely to commit a crime and women were 41% less likely to do so compared to when they were not taking ADHD medication. The subjects included in the research were prescribed a variety of medications, thus the type of ADHD medication did not affect the results. “The most probable interpretation would be that medication reduces symptoms like impulsivity, and that would be similar regardless of country or culture,” Lichtenstein says. While the study didn’t examine why, he says it’s likely because medication reduces symptoms related to ADHD, such as impulsivity, restlessness, and irritability, that could lead to criminal acts. The study did not conclude why medication may reduce the commission of crime. One obviously has the problem of antecedence; does taking medication reduce the chance of crime commission or is that the person who’s taking medication more motivated to make a change in his/her life and become organized, and productive? This study does not answer this question.