Scientists know that people with ADHD are more likely to break the law than non-sufferers, but a new study shows how stark the contrast is—and the difference meds can make. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are four to seven times more likely to commit a crime than their peers, Swedish researchers find. The study, which the AP calls "provocative," points to a need for patients to stay on drugs like Ritalin and Adderall beyond childhood. Researchers used Swedish national health and court records to track 16,000 men and 10,000 women with ADHD aged 15 and older, comparing each subject with 10 similar people without the disorder.
Over four years, some 37% of men with ADHD were convicted of committing a crime, versus just 9% of men without the disorder; for women, the rates were 15% and 2%, respectively. Medication appeared to cut the risk of committing a crime by 32% among men and 41% among women. Some 4,000 of the 23,000 crimes studied were violent, but medication reduced all types of crime. "It's not necessarily just the medication" that's cutting crime, a researcher notes: People on meds are also getting other kinds of treatment, including counseling. (Read more Ritalin stories.)