Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does Ritalin Reduce Crime or Does it Help Criminals Avoid Getting Caught?

We all know that Ritalin is great for calming unruly children and helping college students cram for their midterms. But does it also help fight crime? The New York Times recently wrote up a study that purportedly showed that those who suffer from “serious attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” are less likely to commit crimes when they’re taking their medication. Pam Belluck reports:
Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent less likely to have criminal convictions while on medication. Patients were primarily young adults, many with a history of hospitalization. Crimes included assault, drug offenses and homicide as well as less serious crimes. Medication varied, but many took stimulants like Ritalin.
Though the study is preliminary, the results make some sense, if you assume that at least some criminal behavior stems from chemical imbalances in the brain. But the most interesting question raised by the Times story came from a Yale School of Public Health professor, who wondered if “[ADHD] medication is reducing crime or ‘making better criminals,’ who avoid arrest.”

Read on...

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