Requip and compulsive gambling

I received a comment on the medicalskeptic post on restless leg syndrome. It was from a man who claims great relief for his lifelong RLS (restless leg syndrome). Of course, I am delighted that he has found benefit in his medications. The drug he mentioned by name is Requip. Now Requip has a very unusual “side effect” in some people: compulsive gambling.

Here is a very interesting short article found in the Boston Globe on Requip:
By Jonah Lehrer | August 19, 2007

When Ann Klinestiver, a high school English teacher in Milton, W.Va., was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she was desperate for anything that might calm the tremors caused by the disease. She found relief in a new drug called Requip.

“At first, the drug was like a miracle,” Klinestiver says. “All my movement problems just disappeared.”

Over time, however, Klinestiver needed higher and higher doses of the drug in order to ease her symptoms. That’s when she became a gambling addict. Although she’d never been interested in gambling before, Klinestiver was suddenly obsessed with slot machines. Every day, she would drive to the local dog racing track and play slots until 3:30 in the morning. After a year of addictive gambling, Klinestiver lost more than $200,000.

Klinestiver’s medication worked by imitating the effects of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Parkinson’s is caused by the death of dopamine neurons in brain areas that control bodily movement. But dopamine also plays a central role in the pleasure centers of the brain, influencing how we see the world and respond to it. Recent medical studies have found that anywhere from 3 to 13 percent of patients on the kind of medication Klinestiver was taking develop severe gambling addictions or related compulsions. In early 2006, Klinestiver was taken off Requip. Her tremors worsened, but her gambling addiction vanished. “I haven’t gambled in 18 months,” she says. “I still think about the slots, but the obsession isn’t there.”…

for the rest of the story go to the Boston Globe

for a similar story with additional links go to medicalskeptic “meds made me do it”

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