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J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Nov;25(11):1524-32. doi: 10.1177/0269881110370502. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

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

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King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.


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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