Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is often associated with the wandering minds and erratic behavior of schoolchildren, but it can have serious consequences for adults as well. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that people with ADHD who are on medications for the condition are less likely to commit crimes.
"We found the same pattern regardless of which type of crime," said Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, lead author of the study.
ADHD is associated with conduct problems in children and adults, the study said. People with ADHD commonly stop taking their prescribed medications, particularly adolescents and young adults, according to the study.
ADHD medications control patients’ symptoms of impulsiveness, irritability and restlessness. By helping tame impulsive urges, the drugs may be also preventing patients from engaging in illegal acts including violent behaviors, Lichtenstein said.
The study focused on Sweden. Comparisons with the United States are not straightforward, the study noted, because of differences in legal and judicial systems compared to Western Europe. The authors write that they "cannot address whether the associations would be the same in other cultures, and thus generalizations should be made with caution."
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