Has Psychiatric Medication Reduced Crime and Delinquency?

Academic Article


  • Several strands of research are consistent with the possibility that expansions in psychiatric medication usage have reduced crime and delinquency. Estimates suggest that medication usage has increased to as much as 9% of the youth population and up to 20% of the adult population in the United States and is high among populations associated with the criminal justice system. Studies show that four classes of commonly used psychiatric medication do reduce aggressive behavior, and crime rates are lower among diagnosed patients receiving such medications compared to those not. Prescriptions for medication increased fivefold for youth during the time that crime has declined in the United States and elsewhere, and two population-level analyses find some association between prescription rates and crime trends over time. However, true experimental studies are lacking, and one of the better trend studies does not show strong associations. This article proposes a research agenda for this issue.
  • Authors

  • Finkelhor, David
  • Johnson, Melanie
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • July 2017
  • Keywords

  • Age Factors
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Crime
  • Criminal Behavior
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Tranquilizing Agents
  • assault
  • drugs
  • offending
  • prevention
  • psychotropics
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26668237
  • Start Page

  • 339
  • End Page

  • 347
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 3