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Psych Meds Rx May Cut Violent Reoffending in Ex-Prisoners

Medications used to treat addiction cut risk in half

woman behind a prison bars

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Released prisoners may be less likely to commit violent crimes if they're prescribed certain kinds of psychiatric medications, according to research published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Seena Fazel, M.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues looked at information on 22,275 prisoners in Sweden. They were released between July 2005 and December 2010. The researchers had a median of nearly five years of follow-up information. During that time, 18.1 percent of the prisoners committed violent crimes.

Three classes of drugs were linked to much lower rates of violent crimes. Antipsychotics were tied to a 42 percent reduction in violent crimes. For psychostimulants, the reduction was 38 percent. Drugs to treat addiction were linked to a 52 percent reduction. Antidepressants and antiepileptics didn't seem to have an effect on violent crime rates. Psychological treatments targeting general criminal attitudes and substance abuse also helped lower the likelihood of violent crimes.

"These findings may have implications for risk management, because prison psychological programs need appropriate facilities, require sufficiently trained and supervised therapists, and are likely to be relatively expensive," the authors write. "Because prisoners with psychiatric disorders benefit from both pharmacological and psychological treatments, research should investigate whether combining therapies improves outcomes."

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