Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023

Currently, there are no medications that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat gambling addiction. While many medical trials have been small and short lived there are some promising studies involving antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and opioid antagonists. One day, it is possible that there will be a drug available to treat compulsive gambling. For now these drugs are only in the experimental stages. 

Gambling addiction is best treated by working with a specialized program or licensed therapist.

What is Pathological Gambling?

A gambling addiction, often called compulsive gambling, is the inability to resist the urge to gamble. Most often the disorder begins in adolescence for males and between 20 and 40 for women. 

To be diagnosed with a pathological gambling disorder 5 of 10 of the following criteria must be met. Additionally, the criteria must be met absent of any other disorder such as substance abuse or a manic episode associated with bipolar disorder.

1. Obsession with gambling (e.g., constantly thinking about past gambling experiences, planning future ventures, or seeking ways to acquire money for gambling).

2. Increasing need for larger amounts of money to experience the desired level of excitement from gambling.

3. Unsuccessful attempts to control, reduce, or quit gambling.

4. Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut back or stop gambling.

5. Using gambling as an escape or coping mechanism to alleviate negative emotions or mood (e.g., helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression).

6. Engaging in "chasing" behavior, where one returns to gamble again in order to recover previous losses.

7. Deceptive behavior, such as lying to loved ones, therapists, or others, in order to hide the extent of gambling involvement.

8. Resorting to illegal activities, such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement, to fund gambling habits.

9. Putting significant relationships, employment, education, or career opportunities at risk due to gambling-related issues.

10. Dependence on others to provide financial assistance in dire financial situations caused by gambling.

If 5 of 10 of these signs are met then an individual likely has a gambling disorder. Individuals may feel they have a gambling disorder even if they don’t meet the clinical definition. In either case, an individual should seek treatment.  

Potential Medications for Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a lifelong struggle, there is no cure, and there is no quick fix. At this point there are no medications that can fully treat a gambling disorder. However, several different types of medication have been studied as potential treatments for compulsive gambling. Some types are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), opioid antagonists, and mood stabilizers.

Opioid Antagonists

Gambling addiction and substance abuse issues are influenced by dopamine in the brain. Opioid antagonists inhibit dopamine release, thus reducing the thrill of gambling. One study found that patients given Naltrexone saw a reduction in gambling urges. The study also saw that patients with more severe gambling urges benefited more than patients with more mild forms of gambling urges.

Another opioid antagonist, nalmefene, saw similar results when compared to subjects taking a placebo. 

Antidepressants and Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs)

Researchers believe antidepressants will yield significant promise in treating gambling addiction as they target serotonin, which is associated with impulse control. Thus far, while some drugs showed promising results, they are not yet ready for approval by the FDA.

One study showed that escitalopram reduced gambling urges in individuals who had an anxiety disorder in addition to their gambling issues. 

Mood Stabilizers

Several studies have shown positive results for fluvoxamine in treating gambling disorders. For individuals who have a co-occurring disorder of bipolar disorder and gambling disorder, lithium has shown positive outcomes.

For patients who have an unrelated health issue or a co-occurring disorder, medications designed to curb gambling urges may not be an option as they’d interfere with their current treatment plans. Medication for gambling addiction should be considered only in conjunction with other forms of treatment. 

Medications That Can Cause Gambling

While some medications may reduce problem gambling or perhaps even provide some kind of cure, there are medications like abilify that can cause compulsive gambling. One study in Sweden showed that pramipexole, ropinirole, and aripiprazole could result in increased gambling urges

Pramipexole and ropinirole are both prescribed as treatment for restless leg syndrome (RLS). If prescribed these a person may be at high risk for developing a gambling problem. 

Finding Help

While medication for gambling addiction is promising and in some cases can show positive results, finding help for gambling addiction is a crucial step towards recovery and regaining control over one's life. Even with medication, treatment for gambling needs to be ongoing to address and underlying or co-occurring issues.

There are various avenues available for individuals seeking assistance. Support groups like Gamblers Anonymous offer a safe space to share experiences, receive guidance, and find strength in the community. Professional help is also essential, and therapists specializing in addiction can provide counseling and develop personalized treatment plans

Additionally, helplines and online resources dedicated to gambling addiction, such as hotlines and forums, offer immediate assistance and a wealth of information. Family and friends can be a valuable support system, providing encouragement and understanding. Taking the initiative to seek help demonstrates a commitment to change and sets the stage for a path towards recovery and a healthier future. Remember, help is available, and no one needs to face gambling addiction alone.


Signs of Gambling Addiction in a Spouse

Nov 30, 2023


​​Signs of Sex Addiction

Nov 27, 2023


Gambling and Divorce: Statistics and Information

Nov 26, 2023


What is DFS Gambling?

Nov 19, 2023


Addiction Specialist: Helping You Overcome Addiction

Nov 18, 2023


Exploring the Different Types of Gambling

Nov 8, 2023


Technology Addiction: Signs and Treatment

Oct 30, 2023


Is Sex Addiction Real? 

Oct 25, 2023


Is Options Trading Gambling?

Oct 23, 2023


Gambling Addiction and Treatment

Oct 16, 2023


Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy Options

Oct 14, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction

Oct 7, 2023


Is the Stock Market Gambling?

Sep 25, 2023


Tips for Finding a Gambling Rehab Center

Sep 24, 2023


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling

Sep 23, 2023


What Causes Porn Addiction?

Sep 18, 2023


Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023


Porn Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Sep 11, 2023


Gambling Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

Aug 29, 2023


How to Stop Online Gambling

Aug 27, 2023


Does Medicare Cover Gambling Rehab?

Aug 19, 2023


Gambling and Dopamine

Aug 12, 2023


How to Stop a Porn Addiction: Tips & Treatment

Aug 11, 2023


Porn Addiction Counseling

Aug 7, 2023


Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Jul 24, 2023


Signs of a Day Trading Problem

Jul 19, 2023


Why is Gambling Addictive?

Jul 18, 2023


The Arizona Lottery and Gambling

Jul 16, 2023


Is Poker Gambling?

Jul 15, 2023


Is Crypto Gambling?

Jul 14, 2023


Gambling and Sports Betting Among College Students

Jul 8, 2023


Updates made to gambling disorder across the DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-5

Updates Made to Gambling Disorder Clinical Criteria Between DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5

Jul 8, 2023

Cara Anderson

Combatting Gambling and Alcohol Addiction

Jun 30, 2023


Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023


The Seven Types of Gamblers: Are You One of Them?

Jun 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Cara Anderson

Signs of a Sports Betting Problem

Jun 21, 2023


Las Vegas - often called the gambling capital of the world

Exploring the History of Gambling in the US

Jun 17, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Gambling Treatment in Arizona

Jun 15, 2023


Voluntary Self Exclusion to Stop Online Gambling

Jun 15, 2023

Cara Anderson

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Gambling Treatment?

Jun 13, 2023


The Growing Issue of Loot Box Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

Jun 11, 2023

Cara Anderson

Gambling Addiction Hotline

Jun 5, 2023


How to Stop Gambling

Jun 1, 2023


Can Gambling Addiction Be Cured?

May 31, 2023


problem gambler worried about addiction

Why Is Gambling So Addictive?

May 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Medication that can cause gambling

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

May 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

A man who has regained control of his life by stopping gambling and online sports betting

How to Stop Gambling: Strategies for Regaining Control

May 21, 2023

Cara Anderson

This man stopped gambling by recognizing his online sports betting problem

How to Stop Gambling and Save Money

May 18, 2023

Cara Anderson

People celebrating being free of a gambling addiction

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

May 16, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

What is a Microbet and how does it contribute to online sports betting addiction

Microbets and Online Gambling Addiction

May 13, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

The Growing Phenomenon of Cryptocurrency Addiction: What Traders Need to Know About Crypto Addiction

Cryptocurrency Addiction

May 9, 2023

Tobias Jackson

Esports player competing in an esports match and having fans gamble on their play

The Rise of Esports Gambling

May 6, 2023

Cara Anderson

The stock market graph of a day trader who has a day trading addiction

How Day Trading Can Create a Dangerous Addiction

May 4, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Younger individuals gathered around a computer talking about a gambling addiction meme

How Addictive Memes Have Fueled Problem Gamblers

May 2, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man in the middle of taking a Do I have a Gambling Problem Quiz

Clinical Screening Tools and Quizzes to Answer the Question: "Do I have a Gambling Problem?"

May 1, 2023

Tobias Jackson

This man has a Sports Betting Problem and is sitting in front of a tv watching his online sports bets lose.

Sports Betting Problems and What to Be Aware Of

Apr 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Insurance paperwork that Birches clients do not need to go through as Birches Health handles all administrative and payment matters for them!

Insurance Coverage for Gambling Addiction in 2023

Apr 29, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man reading outside as he has stopped online sports betting

How to Stop Sports Betting

Apr 28, 2023

Cara Anderson

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Cara Anderson

Man actualizing self care and manifesting his recovery journey from problem gambling and gambling addiction

Self Care for Problem Gamblers

Apr 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

NCAA student athletes in college at university gathering to celebrate a great practice

Can NCAA Athletes Bet on Sports?

Apr 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Bad effects of glamorization of gambling in the media in films, tv shows, and podcasts

Glamorized Gambling and What To Be Aware Of

Apr 24, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

College students (youths and young adults) all gathered around a tv watching the athletic contest during March Madness

What is March Madness and Should You Be Worried?

Apr 22, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Basketball arena where spectators are gathering to watch a National Basketball Assocation (NBA) game and may be betting on sports and wagering on events and the outcome of the game

What is Sports Betting and Event Wagering?

Apr 21, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Therapist offering a problem gambler gambling addiction counseling and treatment

What is Problem Gambling?

Apr 20, 2023

Elliott Rapaport