Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Can ADHD Medication Decrease Recidivism and Crime Rates?

By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer

A recent Swedish study suggests that affordable and easy access to ADHD medications can decrease not only  recidivism of individuals diagnosed with ADHD or similar conditions, but also potentially crime rates. Based on symptoms of impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating untreated ADHD would indeed leave someone  more at risk of entering the criminal justice system.  For example, individuals with ADHD may be more likely to use recreational drugs as a means of self-medication, resulting in involvement in the drug market, illegal drug use, and drug abuse. However, if an individual is medicated the study suggests they are less likely to commit a crime in the first place, as well as a second time around:

“The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found when people took their medication they were 32-41% less likely to be convicted of a crime than when they were off medication for a period of six months or more”

With increased medication use and access, these individuals also may have more access to other support services which improve their likelihood of limiting their criminal behavior. But what does this mean for broader society? With estimates suggesting that 7-40% of individuals in the criminal justice system having ADHD, or similar conditions,  in the UK (and likely similar numbers in the USA) such findings would improve crime at a micro and a macro level. For one, it would decrease costs for the justice and social systems:

“…it costs £100-£300 a month to provide medication for someone with ADHD, and taking into account the costs of unemployment and the criminal justice system, these would “vastly outweigh” the costs of medication, he says”

“”A referral to specialist adult services can cost £1,500 – compare this with the amount of money you can save if you keep people out of prison – it’s a no brainer.””

 In addition, it could decrease the crime rates in general:
“Co-author Prof Paul Lichtenstein says: “It is said that roughly 30 to 40% of long-serving criminals have ADHD. If their chances of recidivism can be reduced by 30%, it would clearly affect the total crime numbers in many societies.”
“”The researchers looked at a variety of crimes – from petty crime to violent crime, finding a reduction in all of these when people took medication.”
All in all this sounds like a simple concept that proves a very big point, that being the role that mental health plays in many crimes. This portrays and provides evidence for the need for improved services and acknowledgement of mental health needs. Effective usage of medications can drastically decrease personal and societal crime rates and thus improve the quality of life for many individuals as well as society.

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One Response

  1. Michael Serene November 25, 2012

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