The propensity to partake in violence decreases substantially in those prisoners who are dispensed psychotic drugs after their release, a recent study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry in November 2016, says. According to it, the released prisoners in Sweden exhibited far less inclination to indulge in violent recidivism when they were given antipsychotics, psychostimulants and drugs for addictive disorders compared to periods when they were not given these medicines, the study said.
Recidivism is a common problem among released prisoners. The researchers revealed that between 2005 and 2010, about one-third of the released prisoners in the United States and the United Kingdom were reconvicted for a fresh crime within two years. Among the 10 million prisoners worldwide in 2015, out of which 2.2 million were from the U.S., re-offending remained quite high among the released prisoners.
The psychosocial interventions, which are the most used programs to curb re-offending, rarely show any positive result. Hence, the researchers view that only psychotropic medications offer an alternative strategy to reduce re-offending. It has come to light that psychiatric and substance use disorders (SUDs) are the real culprit behind such repeat crimes by released prisoners. However, there will always be some doubts whether pharmacological treatments can reduce re-offending risk.
Psychotropic medications and violent re-offending linked
Aiming to study a link between psychotropic medications and violent recidivism, the researchers, led by Seena Fazel, M.D., of the University of Oxford examined 22,275 released prisoners (average age, 38 years; 92 percent male). It included all released prisoners in Sweden from July 2005 to December 2010.
During a follow-up (4.6 years), the researchers found that 4,031 individuals (18 percent) had 5,653 violent re-offenses. After a close monitoring, the researchers noted that psychotropic medications were highly beneficial in reducing reoffending. They noticed primarily three classes of psychotropic medications that helped bring down violent re-offending. They were:
- antipsychotics that led to 42 percent reduction
- psychostimulants that led to 38 percent reduction
- drugs for addictive disorders that led to 52 percent reduction
However, the researchers noticed that medicines like antidepressants and antiepileptics were not linked to violent re-offending rates.
“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,” said the researchers.
“Provision of medication after prison release needs evaluation as a possibly cost-effective crime reduction alternative. Because prisoners with psychiatric disorders benefit from both pharmacological and psychological treatments, research should investigate whether combining therapies improves outcomes.”
Substance use and re-offending
Despite a voluminous figure of prisoners with psychiatric disorders worldwide, there is little access to psychotropic treatment by the released prisoners, the authors noted. This is one area which needs to be addressed, so that the number of re-offending cases by released prisoners can be checked. Greater access to such treatment would somewhat thwart the rekindling of their tendency to commit crimes.
Substance use among these prisoners also shoots up after their release, which only complicates the matter. Even though they are compelled to remain sober during the incarceration, they tend to go back to their harmful habits once released.
Recovery from addiction is possible
Helping these freed prisoners in dealing with their SUDs is important as being in a state of high increases the possibility of committing crimes. Seeking help from any credible drug rehab center is the best solution for the convicts who were also addicts.
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