Link between anti-depressants and gambling — (Harmony)

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Harmony Cape Town

Recently a link has been found between a popular antidepressant drug, Venlafaxine, and gambling addiction. There is no clinical proof that this link exists, however there is solid data that can help to shed some light on this matter.

A woman in the United States, Leanne Scott, who committed fraud in order to feed her gambling addiction stated that she started taking the drug at the end of 2003 and by early 2004 she started stealing in order to finance a developing gambling addiction. She said that while stealing under the influence of the drug she knew what she was doing and she knew it was wrong, the problem was that she no longer cared. In an interview with ABC television she said that her counselor had encountered a lot of people with gambling addictions that were also using Venlafaxine (or its branded version).

The drug obviously doesn’t trigger an innate need that we all have to become compulsive gamblers, it does however have a dimming effect on our emotions. Another man, Tim Hiller, who spoke to the ABC team told them of how his gambling addiction escalated until he was in financial ruin.  Hiller said that when he lost $80’000 (Roughly R680000) in one bet and felt almost nothing, he went further in saying that he woke up the next day feeling as though nothing had happened.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni who is the Director of Psychiatric Research at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital says the the drug is widely used and in fact a good antidepressant. Interested to hear about the connection the drug had to gambling, the professor stated that we need to be very careful about using this drug wisely, only prescribing it to people with carefully diagnosed depression and then following up with these patients vigilantly.

There is a definite correlation between gambling and Venlafaxine, there have been a large number of reports of people developing dangerous gambling addictions while using this drug. What is likely happening is people who already have a tendency to gamble who are taking Venlafaxine are now feeling no restraint when gambling due to the drug, and because of this, their problem will only get progressively worse. If you know that you suffer from a gambling addiction then it is very advisable that you steer clear of depression medication (Venlafaxine in particular).