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ADHD medication adherence reduces risk of committing minor offenses in adolescents.

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to investigate the association between adolescents' adherence to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication and their risk of committing minor offenses.

METHODS: Using two Dutch databases, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the Foundation for Pharmaceutical Statistics (SFK), we aimed to investigate the association between adherence to ADHD medication and registered minor offenses between 2005 and 2019 of 18,234 adolescents (12-18 years). We used Cox regression analyses to compare the rate of committing minor offenses of adolescents during periods of high ADHD medication adherence compared to periods of low adherence (i.e., periods with or without sufficient amounts of dispensed medication). We additionally tested associations with adherence to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as control medication and analyzed potential reverse causation.

RESULTS: High ADHD medication adherence was associated with a reduced risk of committing a minor offense of between 33% and 38% compared to low adherence periods of ≥3 months (hazard ratio [HR] 0.67, confidence interval [CI] 0.64-0.71) or ≥6 months (HR 0.62, CI 0.59-0.65). The reduction in risk can likely be attributed to ADHD medication, given the absence of effects of SSRIs and no reverse causation. The reduction rate remained between 16% and 55% per sex, stimulant versus non-stimulant medication, different offense categories and further sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Among adolescents using ADHD medication, rates of criminality were lower during periods of high medication adherence, suggesting that adherence to ADHD medication may contribute to prevention of minor offenses in adolescents.

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