According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, medication may reduce the chances of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) engaging in criminal activity.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden analyzed 25,000 patients with ADHD between 2006 and 2009. The results showed that the individuals who were medicated for the disorder were less likely to commit crimes than those who were not, and it also revealed that the chance of a single patient committing a crime decreased by nearly 32 percent when he or she was medicated.
According to the researchers the results of the study held true for both men and women, and the findings held true for both petty crime and serious violent crimes.
Implications and considerations
Study author Paul Lichtenstein noted that nearly 30 to 40 percent of criminals who are incarcerated for a long period of time have ADHD, and these findings may have helpful applications for reducing the crime rate.
The investigators also reported that people should consider the side effects of certain medications and whether they outweigh any potential benefits.
“We have shown that ADHD medication very probably reduces the risk of crime,” said study author Henrik Larsson, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet. “However, we need to point out that most medical treatments can have adverse side effects, so risks must be weighed up against benefits and the individual patient’s entire life situation taken into consideration before medications are prescribed.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are three broad categories of ADHD symptoms: inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Patients who are inattentive may make simple errors in schoolwork, lose possessions often and seem as though they are not listening. Those who are hyperactive will appear fidgety, especially with their hands and feet, may not be able to play quietly and will also talk for long intervals of time. Impulsivity is characterized in children as saying answers prematurely before someone has a chance to finish a question, an inability to wait for a turn or frequently interrupting while others are speaking.
Later on in life ADHD can lead to substance abuse, problems in schoolwork and an inability to keep a job, according to the NIH.
The NIH also notes that treatment for ADHD can be comprised of both therapy and medications. The most common types of medications are stimulants such as Adderall, Focalin and Dexedrine. Parents looking to find an effective drug treatment for their child should consult with a physician beforehand, because certain medications have been linked to sudden death in kids who have heart disorders.
Parents may also use rewards and consequences in order to provide guidance for their children, along with clear and consistent rules about what is allowed and what isn’t. In addition, the source recommends that parents of children with ADHD keep an open line of communication with teachers, reduce distractions and keep children on a regular schedule when it comes to work, play and sleep. A healthy diet comprised of fiber, fruits and vegetables may also be beneficial for helping control symptoms of ADHD.
According to the University of Maryland, low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may also be linked to ADHD and other behavior problems. People can find omega-3s in flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.
NIH also reports that alternative treatments like herbs, supplements and chiropractic exams have also been utilized lately, but there is little to no clinical research suggesting that they work.