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A new study was released from researchers in Finland describing the link between people who are under the influence of prescription drugs and their likelihood to commit homicide. It appears that people who have a history with painkillers or benzodiazepines are more likely to commit homicide over people who do not take these types of drugs. Additionally, those people that are prescribed anti-depressants have been found to have a slightly higher risk of homicide as well.
This information may serve as a warning to the public as well as members of the medical community to properly screen their patients before prescribing any one of these powerful medications.
Scientists came to their conclusions after investigating 959 people that had been convicted of a homicide between 1993 and 2011. What was initially an interest to see if antidepressants caused a significant increase in homicidal behavior turned out to find that other prescription drugs were much more likely to induce such acts.
“Benzodiazepines can weaken impulse control, and earlier research has found that painkillers affect emotional processing. Caution in prescribing benzodiazepines and strong painkillers to people with a history of substance abuse is advisable,” explained Dr. Jari Tiihonen, a professor at the University of Eastern Finland, and author of the study.
Prescription painkillers actually raised the chances of a person committing homicide to the greatest degree, as people taking the drugs were 95% more likely to do so. Benzodiazepines increased the risk by 45%, and antidepressants by 31%. What was also a factor, is that nearly 80% of the subjects were also under the influence of alcohol. This brings in questions of drug interactions and further inebriation that were unresolved for the purpose of the study, but that couldn’t be left out.
The study is interesting because it highlights yet another negative effect the inclination to over-prescribe medication to patients is having on society. While there are certainly people who benefit greatly from these and other medications routinely, it is a reminder that drugs have potentially very dangerous side effects that can create a ripple effect.