A number of ancient cultures considered criminal activity as the actions of a person in a diseased state and held the attitude they had to be “cured” to rectify the problem in a permanent way. While there is certainly a necessary “punishment” and “reparations” part of dealing with criminal offense, balancing that with a curative component could be key to lessing future problems.
The idea of pharmaceutical intervention to prevent crime is sure to cause some controversy in some circles. For instance, if this truly proves to be “effective,” will we start drugging certain elements of the population as a preemptive measure? What type of test will determine who will be required to take these drugs as a preventative measure? Will it be just people who have been diagnosed as bipolar or schizophrenic or will it include members of populations affected by high crime rates that could have more to do with economic and political conditions?
Whatever the case, it will be interesting to follow the dialogue surrounding this study.
Antipsychotics linked to reduced rates of violent crime
Use of antipsychotic medication has been linked to a significantly reduced risk of psychiatric patients committing violent crime, according to new research published in The Lancet. The study also records an association between mood-stabilizing drugs for people with bipolar disorder and a reduced rate of violent crime.
People with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are most likely to use antipsychotic treatments such as clozapine or risperidone, or mood-stabilizing drugs such as lithium and carbamazepine. These increasingly popular drugs are known to put psychiatric patients at less risk of relapse and rehospitalization.
However, there has been little research examining how these drugs influence potential adverse outcomes in the community, such as violent behavior.
Violent behavior, the new study notes, is one of the most important adverse outcomes for patients with psychiatric disorders. Previous research has shown that the relative risk of violence against others is four times higher in schizophrenia patients than in the general population.
The risk of interpersonal violence in people with bipolar disorder, meanwhile, is “substantially increased” when the patient is misusing substances.