ADHD and Crime article… impulsive = jail?
Category : Mental Health and Addictions
Go Undiagnosed, Go Directly to Jail? The Truth About Adult ADHD and Crime (taken from Everydayhealth.com)
Published Feb 8, 2014
Did you know that 20 to 45 percent of adult inmates have ADHD? Several studies have found that a large number of inmates had ADHD as children and that many of them continue to show symptoms as adults. I read this in an article by adult ADHD coach Pete Quilythe other day, and although at first I found the statistics shocking, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
I’ve been inside a jail cell myself. I was 21, sitting on a cold steel bed and contemplating suicide for the first of several times in my life.
Criminally Impulsive: My Time in Jail
I was arrested because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I had anger issues, especially where women were concerned. I sought out flighty, pretty women who would meet me on a whim and “see where things went.”
I ended up with a criminal record and what is referred to as a “weapon prohibition” here in Canada, because my conviction was for uttering threats. I was a 21-year-old hothead who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but I totally understand why I was given the 10-year ban on owning a gun due to public safety. I have always taken 100 percent responsibility for my mistakes.
It would be more than a decade before I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. I’m not saying that being unaware of my condition is what put me in jail, but I do know that if I had been diagnosed and started treatment for my adult ADHD earlier, I might have avoided many of the darkest moments of my life. At 21, I just didn’t have the right skill set to understand let alone fix the cause of most of my problems: impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
Adult ADHD and Crime Don’t Have to Go Together
The sooner people stop making light of ADHD, the better. According to Quily, adults with ADHD are four to nine times more likely to commit crimes and end up in jail. That’s nothing to joke about. On top of all those lives that could be improved just through screenings, just think about the cost of incarcerating so many people. Wow, do I feel a sense of personal responsibility here, especially after nearly losing it all, as strong and determined as I always was. ADHD broke me, and it took a two-week stay in a psych ward to begin the process of starting to re-build with a new awareness and some small feeling of hope in my future.
The implication of these statistics is dire for those suffering from the monster known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. How many have already killed themselves? How many are in the fog of addiction? The world is just beginning to wake up to this mental health condition for what it is, and, equally important, what it isn’t. A diagnosis doesn’t mean the rest is a walk in the park or some sort of genius-inducing superpower. Sure, I have some special skills and abilities, but we all have gifts just like we have areas to work on.
Second Chances — and Treatment — Are Effective
Since my time in jail in my 20′s, I’ve worked hard to “prove myself” in many ways, including pursuing my goal for over a decade of becoming an armed guard. My diagnosis in 2011 was the true beginning of a major shift in my awareness. Yes, I’ve had a bad spell here and there, but I got the help I needed, and am much more aware these days. I am grateful every single day for my new life and goals.
I got the gift of a second chance, but most aren’t as lucky as I was. Jails and prisons should implement ADHD screening and testing. Just think of how many million lives and dollars could be saved with that one simple change! Most people in jail aren’t career criminals. If you believe in them and give them a chance to get better, they can do amazing things in life! I see that every single day when I look in the mirror.