The important links between ADHD, Heroin use and the type and extent of offending among prisoners

Predictors of offending among prisoners: the role of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance use

From Journal of Psychopharmacology

This research significantly furthers our understanding of the role of ADHD and substance use in the offending history of truly persistent offenders. Findings reveal that frequent use of heroin in the year prior to imprisonment was the single most powerful predictor of the extent of total offending, with ADHD symptoms also adding independently to the variance in offending. In contrast, for violent offending, ADHD symptoms were the strongest predictor followed by alcohol dependence. Effective treatment programs have been recently developed for ADHD and for heroin and crack cocaine addiction. The findings of this study support the view that serious attempts should be made to apply these programs to persistent offenders. The personal, social and financial costs of repeated offending and imprisonment are substantial.

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to investigate predictors of offending among prisoners from official records after controlling for age at first conviction and antisocial personality disorder. The participants were 198 Scottish prisoners, who had completed Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV screens for child and adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III for Axis I and Axis II disorders. The ADHD symptomatic group had significantly higher rates of total, acquisitive and violent offending than other prisoners, as well as greater regular heroin use. Hierarchical multiple regressions, using child and adult symptoms as dimensions, showed that frequent use of heroin in the year prior to imprisonment was the single most powerful predictor of the extent of total offending, with ADHD symptoms also adding independently to the variance in offending. In contrast, for violent offending, ADHD symptoms were the strongest predictor followed by alcohol dependence. The findings demonstrate the importance of heroin use and ADHD symptoms in the persistence of offending. There is an urgent need to treat drug addiction and ADHD symptoms in order to reduce offending among the most persistent offenders. Recently, treatment programmes have been developed for adults with ADHD, heroin and crack cocaine addiction which can be applied to this population.

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Article information:
Young, S., Wells, J., & Gudjonsson, G. (2010). Predictors of offending among prisoners: the role of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance use Journal of Psychopharmacology DOI: 10.1177/0269881110370502

     
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