Could painkillers and antidepressants explain the discrepancy between what a person does and who they are? You’ve probably heard about the old cliché – someone commits a murder, but despite the evidence in front of them, all of the individual’s friends and family members say that they’re the sweetest, calmest person in the world and could never do such an ugly thing.
Well, we might finally have a potential answer. A new study conducted by Finish researchers found that certain medical drugs that affect the central nervous system (psychotropic drugs) do in fact cause violent behavior in patients and make them much more likely to commit homicide.
Dr. Jari Tiihonen, lead author and professor, gave a statement saying that “I think that these chemical substances affect the impulse control of the person. The only surprising result was that painkillers also increase the risk”.
The team of researchers set out to investigate the subject due to the many school massacres in Finland and the United States that often end with someone blaming antidepressants for the behavior of the young people responsible for the tragedy.
Dr. Jari Tiihonen expressed great concern over such unconfirmed believes affecting drug prescription practices due to the massive amount of negative publicity.
He said that in order to establish a link between medical drugs and an increased risk of committing a homicide four (4) things must hold true: the sample of subjects needs to be representative, the reason for taking the drug needs to be taken into account, the effect needs to be controlled, the effect of any other drug the subject might be taking also has to be taken into account.
For their study, Tiihonen and his team looked at the Finnish Homicide Database and analyzed the files of more than 900 convicted murders (959 to be exact) in order to determines the pre-murder use of prescription drugs. They were all homicides that occurred between the years of 2003 band 2011.
As a measure of control, each convicted murder was grouped with ten (10) other people who shared the same age, sex and home municipality.
The researchers found that benzodiazepines and painkillers are truly connected to a much higher risk of committing homicide, but that antidepressants only pose a lower risk.
Statistically speaking, antipsychotics pose no risk of committing a murder whatsoever, antidepressants increased the risk by 31 percent (31%), benzodiazepines (often used to treat insomnia or anxiety) increased the risk by 45 percent (45%), opiate painkillers increased the risk by no less than 92 percent (92%), and anti-inflammatory painkillers increased the risk by an astonishing 206 percent (206%).
For young people under the age of 26 the risks are even greater. Benzodiazepines increased the risk of committing a murder by 95 percent (95%), while opiate painkillers increased the risk by 223 percent (223%).
The experts explained that benzodiazepines are responsible for weakening impulse control and that painkillers are very likely to affect emotional processing. To make matters worse, benzodiazepines are often prescribed in very high doses and treats last for very long chunks of time.
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