Prescription Pills & Murder: The Surprising Link

Prescription Pills & Murder: The Surprising Link


Are You More Likely to “Snap” if You Take Prescription Drugs?

Researchers from Europe have discovered an unsettling trend between taking prescription medication and committing homicide.

prescription drugs and murder

The new study, published in the scientific journal World Psychiatry , links a number of different medications with significantly increased rates of homicide. Although scientists have long suspected there was some link between prescription drugs and violence, that link has remained unproven until now.

The drugs in question are none other than benzo’s, opioids, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers (think Aspirin and other OTC pain pills). Find exactly how much these medications increase homicide below.

It’s worth noting that although this study took place in Finland, researchers believe it mirrors current drug trends in America. That is, if the same study were conducted tomorrow in New York, California, or any other state, the results would be identical.

A final caveat before getting into the numbers – this latest study suggests correlation but not causation. It doesn’t prove that if someone is prescribed or abuses a certain drug, say Xanax, that they’ll be more likely to commit murder.

Find the latest info on drugs and violent behavior below.

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The Facts on Prescription Drugs & Homicide

Scientists from Finland studied over 900 men and women in their research. Although there was a diverse age range (between thirteen and eighty-eight), all individuals shared one common thread – they’d been convicted of committing murder.

For each individual studied, researchers constructed a control group. The control was comprised of over 9,000 individuals of the same age, gender, and geographic location as the test group. The only difference was those in the control group hadn’t committed homicide.

Researchers also gathered data about all participants’ medication use over a seven-year period, as well as examining police records, mental health records, and anecdotal evidence.

What were the findings? Well, according to scientists

  • Antidepressants (Paxil, Effexor, Prozac, etc.) increase the risk of committing homicide by 31%

  • Benzo’s (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc.) increase the risk of committing homicide by 45%

  • Opioid painkillers (Vicodin, Percocet, Roxicodone, etc.) increase the risk of committing homicide by 92%

  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers (Aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.) increase the risk of committing homicide by 200%

    While those numbers are all surprisingly high, it’s the antidepressant information that shocked researchers the most. Many people, including scientists and public officials, had linked antidepressants to violent behavior. While this is true, to a point, it’s clear they present far less of a risk than benzo’s, opioids, or anti-inflammatory medications.

    Why Do RX Drugs Increase Violence So Much?

    That’s the million-dollar question. Why does taking these pills make people more likely to commit murder?

    Unfortunately, there’s not an easy answer. The researchers who conducted this latest study believe it may have something to do with how benzo’s and opioids impact the brain. Benzo’s are thought to “weaken” impulse control and opioids are thought to “dull” emotional response.

    While both those explanations make good sense, there’s no hard evidence to support them. Plus, they don’t account for the staggering increase in homicide posed by anti-inflammatory drugs.

    I have a personal theory that the lifestyle of someone abusing benzo’s or opioids plays a part. Speaking from experience, committing crimes to feed an addiction to prescription drugs can lead to unforeseen consequences. While I never took a life in active addiction, I did find myself in uncomfortable and sometimes violent situations.

    Still, that doesn’t account for OTC painkillers impact on homicide rates. Nothing I can think of accounts for that 200% increase. For now, it seems more research needs to be done. Let’s just hope that happens quickly.

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