What are the Drugs that Cause Gambling Addiction: A Medical Opinion

casino gambling games

Gambling is a great source of entertainment and a possible source of extra cash. Even so, we are all familiar with gambling addiction. Billions of people in the world gamble regularly and some get carried away, so much that they need help.

The number of problem gamblers is low and diminishing even further thanks to great programs introduced by casinos and organizations. Still, they do exist.

If you enjoy occasional or frequent recreational gambling, it is your responsibility to avoid becoming addicted, too. Quality casinos will do their job at providing you with the means and information you need to deal with such problems if they arise, but as a player, it is your responsibility to take care of this, too.

One thing that many players don’t know is that there are actually medications that cause pathological gambling. In this article, we’ll discuss what these are, and help you avoid becoming addicted by using a variety of methods.

How to Avoid Gambling Addiction

As a player, you’ll be given many opportunities to gamble, especially now when online casinos are more numerous than ever. To avoid becoming addicted, you should see this as a recreational, fun activity and not as a source of income.

This means that you should set a budget and stick to it, as well as stop chasing losses when you run out of money to gamble. More importantly, if you notice that you get carried away, you should check out the programs offered by the casino and use them to fix this. There are plenty of treatment options that can help with this.

Emotions While Gambling

Gambling Addiction and How Casinos Deal with It

Casinos today aren’t only responsible for providing fair gambling to their customers. A quality, secure website will also offer contact information and guidelines for people that struggle with gambling addiction. Many adhere to Responsible Gambling programs, as well as opt-out features for players that want to limit their access to the casino where they gamble.

Yes, these are some great ways to avoid gambling addiction, but do you know that some medications are linked to pathological gambling, too?

Medications Associated with Problem Gambling

Some medications that doctors prescribe to their patients have been associated with pathological gambling. For example, a study shows that Parkinson’s drugs may lead to compulsive sex and gambling.  As unbelievable as this sounds, there is plenty of data that pinpoints some drugs that are known to encourage people to behave compulsively.

The medication that is most commonly linked to compulsive gambling is antidepressants. Antidepressants contain ingredients that affect neurotransmitters in the human body, such as the SNRI, SSRI, NRI< SARI, and TCA. Even though these are prescribed to improve the person’s mental condition, such pills are strong and can cause side effects such as compulsive behaviors.

Of course, it is not good for you to avoid taking prescribed medication for the health problems you are dealing with. However, if you are taking any of the following drugs, it is best to stay away from gambling or at least try to pace yourself:

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia medications

Bipolar disorders and schizophrenia are very common these days, and they can literally turn the life of the patient around if not treated. Some symptoms of these disorders include false beliefs, difficulties to socialize, difficulties to express emotion, and lack of motivation.

These patients are often given drugs to simulate their happy hormone i.e. dopamine. They can help tremendously, but often lead to compulsive behaviors at work, aggression, and problem gambling.

Dopamine-based medication

Dopamine agonist meds are given to patients that lack dopamine i.e. the hormone of joy. These pills increase dopamine and trigger pleasure behaviors, which makes them risky for people that love to gamble. They can unlock impulsive and compulsive behaviors that include shopping, sexual activities, and gambling. Such medications are usually given to people with Parkinson’s, such as the infamous Mirapex, a pill that has helped many patients that suffer from this disease, but is known to cause people to develop gambling problems.

Restless Leg Syndrome medication

Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS is a disorder that causes discomfort and sometimes even pain in a person’s leg while they rest. This disorder has no cure, but some medications can help treat its symptoms. In cases of RLS, doctors prescribe similar medications as they do for Parkinson’s i.e. dopamine antagonists like Pramipexole. These are also known to trigger compulsive behaviors.


Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world right now. People struggle with anxiety, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and many different conditions that require antidepressants to be treated. The meds can help people tremendously in addition to psychological treatment, but these meds are also known to trigger mood swings, gambling, and aggression.

The most popular antidepressants that are known to cause such side effects are Prozac, Effexor, Serzone, and Soroxat, as well as some placebo pills that patients are often prescribed.

Most Common Drugs Related to Gambling Disorders

abilify aripiprazole

Let’s get more specific now. The most common drugs related to gambling disorders today are:

  • Pramipexole with 56%
  • Ropinirole with 15%
  • Levodopa and Carbidopa with 11%
  • Aripiprazole and Rotigotine with 5%

What Can You Do?

Hopefully, you are now more informed about the drugs and their effect on gambling activity in casino players. Gambling can be an amazing way to spend your time and have some fun, but only if you don’t allow this to become a problem.

While keeping track of your bankroll and avoiding spending more than you can afford is the best way to protect yourself from this, you should be aware of factors that can influence your decisions. You might not be able to control compulsive behaviors caused by medication, but knowing that this can happen, you can avoid gambling activities if you are taking the drugs listed above.

If you want to make sure that you won’t be tempted to gamble when under the influence of these drugs, you should seek help. You should talk to professionals to get some assistance, and make sure that your friends and family know what the side effects of these drugs can include.

Article edited and fact checked by our editorial team


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