Swedish Prisons’ Overuse of Stimulants to Treat ADHD, Alarming

By Aron Lamm
Epoch Times Staff
Created: July 21, 2011 Last Updated: July 21, 2011
Related articles: World » Europe
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One the cells at the women's prison in Hinseberg, Sweden. (Eva Tedesjo/AFP/Getty Images)

One the cells at the women's prison in Hinseberg, Sweden. (Eva Tedesjo/AFP/Getty Images)

The number of Swedish prison inmates receiving Ritalin for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), increased by 30 percent last year, according to recent Swedish Prison and Probation Service statistics.

Earlier estimates have indicated that around 25 percent of the Swedish prison population may suffer from ADHD, but the figure may be even higher, according to Lars-Håkan Nilsson, medical adviser to the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.

"We used to think that the figure was about 25 percent, but a recent study indicates that as many as 40 percent of the convicted males with long sentences may suffer from ADHD," he told Swedish Radio (SR).

Prescribing stimulants to prison inmates is very common but Lasse Liljegren, who is a member of KRIS—an organization of ex-convicts working to promote the reintegration of former criminals into society—is not very happy about the increased use.

"If you give high doses of stimulants to someone who has been struggling with an amphetamine addiction, you just replace one drug with another. This person remains addicted in one way or another. We would rather see a more restrictive approach," he told SR.

Nilsson said that although KRIS is looking into alternative drugs, prisons want to follow standard medical guidelines and use the most effective drugs available.

Ritalin and Atomoxetine, the two drugs of choice for treating ADHD, make up 3.8 percent of the total amount of drugs prescribed in Swedish prisons during 2010, according to the statistics from the Prison and Probation Service.

The treatment of ADHD has been given special attention in prisons. And now, with the favorable results obtained by using Ritalin, more inmates with ADHD are now participating in education and therapy, according to a press release on the Prison and Probation Service website.


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