Gambling and sex addiction caused by Parkinson's drug

According to a doctor at a clinic in the U.S., a certain category of drug, which is often prescribed for Parkinson's disease, can cause some patients to become compulsive gamblers or addicted to sex.

Apparently after taking the drugs, called dopamine agonists, some patients have developed gambling habits so severe, that some of them lost more than £100,000 in six months,while others developed behavioural problems, including compulsive eating, increased alcohol consumption, and an insatiable appetite for sex.

Dr Eric Ahlskog, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says doctors need to be aware of the possible risks.

He says the revelations are quite striking, as pathological gambling being induced by a drug, is a very rare side-effect, and only reversible if the patient comes off the drug; he says the association has to be made.

The study was carried out after the gambling issues of 11 patients were discovered during routine clinic visits.

Of the eleven, four had never gambled before starting dopamine agonist treatment.

Dr Ahlskog says that seven of the patients developed pathological gambling habits within one to three months of reaching the maintenance dose of dopamine or an increase of the dose.

The study is reported in the current edition of the Archives of Neurology.

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