Lichtenstein said the researchers didn't study whether medications were more effective in reducing criminal behavior for a particular age group. They also didn't look at whether one type of medication was better at decreasing the risk of criminal activity, but he said those that influence the core symptoms of ADHD -- such as impulsivity, restlessness and irritability -- are likely to be better at reducing criminal behavior.
Lichtenstein said ADHD medications should be seriously considered for adolescents and young adults with ADHD who are at risk for criminal behavior.
"All medications have potential adverse side effects, and the clinician should weigh risks and benefits for each patient," he added. "Now, they should include the potential decreased risk of criminality in that evaluation."
For his part, Adesman said that based on the findings of this study, it looks as though treatment with ADHD medication can make a difference in the risk of criminal behavior. But, he said, it's important to realize that the population in this study isn't the same as the population in the United States, so the findings might be different if the study were done here.
Adesman said it is also important not to "presume that children diagnosed with ADHD today have the same risks of criminality as people diagnosed 20 years ago, given the greater awareness, education resources and support that is available today."
However, he added, "I suspect that symptomatic people probably do better with medications."
Although the study found an association between staying on ADHD medication and reduced criminal behavior, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
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