A drug used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence also appears to help those addicted to gambling, according to a study in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
University of Minnesota researchers found that the drug naltrexone decreased the urge to gamble, as well as gambling-related behaviors in pathological gamblers.
Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade. An extended-release formulation is sold under the name Vivitrol.
Dr. Jon Grant and colleagues randomly assigned 58 men and women to take 50, 100 or 150 milligrams of naltrexone daily for up to 18 weeks. Another 19 individuals took a placebo.
Of the 49 who completed the full study, nearly 40 percent of the pathological gamblers who took naltrexone were able to abstain from all gambling for at least a month, compared with 10.5 percent of those who took the placebo.
The participants, aged 14 to 59, gambled for six to 32 hours each week.
Most in the study group reported symptoms of depression and about 20 percent said they had anxiety disorder.