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Certain Drugs Raise Homicide Risk

A joint Swedish-Finnish study published in the journal World Psychiatry shows that the use of certain drugs that affect the central nervous system may be associated with an increased risk of committing homicide. The greatest risk was noted  in the use of tranquillizing benzodiazepines and painkillers, while anti-depressants were associated with only a slightly elevated risk, according to information from the University of Eastern Finland. This was the first study of its kind in the world.

Researchers analyzed the use of prescription drugs by 959 individuals convicted of a homicide in Finland between 2003 and 2011 and a pattern emerged.

“In many cases, benzodiazepines had been prescribed in very high doses and for a long period of time,”  says Dr. Jari Tiihonen, lead researcher and a member of the Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience. “Benzodiazepines can weaken impulse control, and earlier research has found that painkillers affect emotional processing. Caution is advisable in prescribing benzodiazepines and strong painkillers to people with a history of substance abuse.”

The study was a collaboration of Karolinska Institutet and several organisations in Finland;  the University of Eastern Finland, Niuvanniemi Hospital, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Kuopio University Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital, the University of Helsinki, the Kela Research Department and Epid Research Ltd. 

Source: University of Eastern Finland