GPs are being told to prescribe Naltrexone for gambling addictions

February 18, 2016

CapsulesGPs in the UK are being told to prescribe gamblers anti-addiction drugs in an attempt to tackle Britain’s gambling epidemic.

In a Daily Mail report, the medication naltrexone is usually given to those with severe drug and alcohol problems, including heroin addicts.

But it was revealed today that the NHS is now giving the drugs to compulsive gamblers who are unable fight their ‘cravings’. Will Australia follow suit to deal with the issue of gambling addiction?

Naltrexone may be used to help people who have withdrawn (detoxified) from opioids such as heroin to stay off those drugs through the awareness that the effects of naltrexone will stop them achieving a ‘high’. It may be used as an experimental treatment during rapid withdrawal from opioids and can also be prescribed to people with alcohol dependence.

The first clinic to prescribe the drug was the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which handed the medication to a patient in November as part of a pilot scheme.

Under the treatment service, commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Trust, it has since treated four more patients who were unable to be helped through other methods.

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a researcher from the clinic, said: ‘The medication is used to stop the most compulsive gamblers who are resistant to treatment. It helps stop craving.’

Naltrexone comes in different forms, but not all are approved in Australia. The usual dose is 50 mg a day orally, starting 4–7 days after the last drink. Naltrexone can also be used in people who are still drinking as it may help them to cut down. Patients are often started on a half tablet (25 mg) daily for the first 3–5 days to minimise adverse effects. There are no specific ill effects from alcohol consumption during treatment and patients do not need to be advised to stop therapy if they relapse.

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