Abuse of common painkillers associated with increase in violent crimes
CERTAIN drugs affecting the central nervous system – such as painkillers and tranquilizing benzodiazepines – are associated with increased risk of committing a murder, finds a new study published in the journal World Psychiatry.
The Swedish and Finnish researchers behind the study were interested in investigating whether there was any scientific basis for the claim that psychotropic drugs can cause violent behaviour.
The Swedish and Finnish researchers behind the study were interested in investigating whether there was any scientific basis for the claim that psychotropic drugs can cause violent behaviour. This claim has been debated following massacres committed by young people in schools and other public places in the United States (US) and Finland.
“It has been repeatedly claimed that it was the antidepressants used by the persons who committed these massacres that triggered their violent behavior,” explains study author Prof. Jari Tiihonen. “It is possible that the massive publicity around the subject has already affected drug prescription practices.”
Tiihonen states that the following criteria must be fulfilled to properly investigate a proposed link between drug use and risk committing a crime:
*The sample needs to be representative
*The reason for using the drug needs to be taken into consideration
*The effect needs to be controlled for
*The effects of any other drugs and intoxicants used simultaneously also need to be considered.
The team analyzed data – from the Finnish Homicide Database of the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy and the Finnish Prescription Register of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland – on the use of prescription drugs among 959 convicted murderers, prior to committing their crime, in Finland during the period 2003-2011.
The researchers found no significant association between use of antipsychotics and increased risk of committing a homicide. However, a slightly increased risk of committing a homicide (31 per cent increased risk) was associated with antidepressant use.
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