March 27, 2023 2 min read


Depression Drug Turns Patients into Pathological Gamblers

A drug that treats bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, and depression may be tied to gambling addiction

The drug in question, aripiprazole, has been flagged as a potential catalyst of gambling addiction, the National Problem Gambling Clinic has said. According to the treatment organizaiton, there has been a surge in gambling addiction after patients started taking the drug.

Turning Mental Patients into Gambling Addicts

According to Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a psychiatrist who is in charge of the clinic, this matter needs to be addressed head-on and more awareness needs to be brought on the issue. Bowden-Jones is confident that general practitioners should stop prescribing the drug to treat mental issues as this prompts patients into addictions that could arguably have a more devastating impact on people’s lives.

The issue is much more serious than thought, and Bowden-Jones believes that the drug is directly responsible for addictive behavior and tendencies, and not just a “side effect.” In her own account:

We constantly hear about mental health teams not being aware. More needs to be done to prevent people from being put on aripiprazole without being warned and monitored.

Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones

According to the clinic’s own data, some 9% of people who sought treatment had been taking the drug, or 30 out of 359 registered cases. The connection between the drug and addiction has only become apparent recently,  Bowden-Jones explained, urging for immediate action to tackle the matter in collaboration with GPs and other medical specialists who may be prescribing the drug to treat a range of issues.

Another matter to be taken into consideration is that doctors may not be aware that their patients are dealing with or experiencing gambling issues. Often, patients could be reluctant to actually step forward and admit to having a problem.

A Well-Known Side-Effect of the Drug

Bowden-Jones urges medical practitioners to actively seek to find out more about their patients and whether they experience gambling-related harm. In general, people who experience psychiatric illness are far more likely to be suffering from gambling addiction, says Paul Kanolik, a lawyer who is dealing with gambling cases, cited by The Guardian.

People suffering from such issues have been more likely to end up raking up a huge gambling debt, Kanolik noted. However, not everyone is unaware of the effect the drug has. According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, pathological gambling and impulse control disorders are well-recognized side-effects of the drug. Bowden-Jones’s call for action comes at the right time.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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