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ADHD treatments and criminal activity

Around 5% of school-aged children have ADHD and many of these children will receive pharmacological treatments. Untreated ADHD is often associated with antisocial behaviour, substance misuse and criminal activity.

Although ADHD continues into adulthood, treatment often stops in adolescence. Little is known about the impact of this, especially whether this has an effect on rates of criminal activity. A new piece of research, looking at the records of 25,656 people in Sweden with an ADHD diagnosis, has investigated whether treatment has an impact on rates of criminal behaviour. Sweden has similar prevalence of ADHD to the UK and uses similar treatments, so the research findings are broadly applicable to the UK.

The Science Media Centre has invited one of the authors, to answer questions including:

  • What impact does treatment have on rates of criminal behaviour in adults with ADHD?
  • How do we know we can trust the data/how was the study conducted?
  • What does this mean for treatment of adult ADHD in the UK?
  • Why could this research not have been conducted in the UK?



Dr Seena Fazel, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry, University of Oxford

Prof Philip Asherson, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

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