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Medical Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome could Spur Compulsive Gambling Disorder

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Medical Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome could Spur Compulsive Gambling Disorder

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Two separate cases are being reported by a new Mayo Clinic study showing that patients treated medically for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) developed a compulsive gambling problem that caused debt over $100,000. These patients did not have any previous gambling problems before the treatment began for the RLS. The study was published in the January 23rd issue of Neurology.

The medication used is called dopamine agonists for the treatment of RLS patients. The researchers do not know the extent of the problem for compulsive gambling disorder to develop from the treatment. They suspect that it is only a small number of RLS patients that develop the gambling bug. The researchers from the Mayo Clinic suggest that proper screening for RLS patients should be completed to determine if they are susceptible to compulsive behaviors before being prescribed the dopamine agonist medication. One thing that they noticed was the more the medication doseage was increased, the worse the gambling became.

This is not the only group that can be affected with the compulsive gambling disorder. In 2005, Mayo Clinic physicians say the same problem of using dopamine agonist therapy with 11 Parkinson disease patients.

"Although pathologic gambling has already been recognized in patients with Parkinson disease who often took high doses of dopamine agonists, the current report suggests that pathological gambling is not restricted to patients with Parkinson disease -- and also can occur at low dosages" explains Maja Tippmann-Peikert, M.D., the lead author of the Mayo Clinic report on restless legs syndrome. "Physicians should not only monitor Parkinson disease patients for this behavior but also screen their RLS patients who may be on much lower doses of dopamine agonists."

Not only should the physician screen the patients before prescribing dopamine agonist they should have the patient and their family member report any negative behaviors that may develop.

The good news is that the compulsive gambling can be reversed when the medication is weaned and moved to another treatment. The problem is that is not caught, rising financial debt could develop and destroy relationships and careers.

By Mark Barone
Best Syndication Health Writer

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