Joanna Moncrieff, a leading British psychiatrist and author, has argued that antipsychotics like Abilify (aripiprazole) do not actually treat anything—they just zone people out so their awareness is dull. They can be effective for some, but that is essentially because they are powerful tranquilizers.
This appears to be at the heart of the Abilify gambling issue: researchers think Abilify may overstimulate dopamine receptors for some people, triggering compulsive behavior like gambling, hyperactive sexuality and compulsive shopping.
This compulsion can be uncontrollable, driving some people with no prior history of gambling to do so by any means necessary, even when they can no longer afford it. A number of documented cases include people funding their gambling addiction via credit cards or borrowed money. Other severe Abilify gambling cases include individuals who felt they needed to gamble in order to continue living.
This particular Abilify side effect may not result in physical harm to a person, but it can cause serious financial, emotional and psychological problems that tear lives apart.
Those whose lives have been turned upside down due to crippling gambling debt after taking Abilify may have the option of filing an Abilify lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company, in order to seek compensation.
Abilify Gambling Studies
A number of Abilify studies have found a link between aripiprazole and compulsive gambling:
A 2013 French study examined eight individuals who checked into a clinic to treat pathological gambling. The patients were mostly young men who were schizophrenic or bipolar. Each had a prior history of addictive disorders and regular gambling before they were prescribed aripiprazole. For each, the causality of aripiprazole was considered using an algorithm. According to the study, the probability that pathological gambling was actually due to aripiprazole was considered “possible” in seven of the eight cases. After discontinuing the drug or greatly reducing the dose, most patients regained control of their compulsive behaviors, researchers wrote.
A 2011 case study published by Current Drug Safety found similar results among patients who were being treated for schizophrenia. None of the patients involved with this study had a history of pathological gambling. Soon after they began taking Abilify, they began gambling uncontrollably.
Another 2011 study conducted by the National Problem Gambling Clinic affirmed a relationship between Abilify and gambling. One of the patients involved in the study that was on Abilify, was described by researchers thusly:
“He was pre-occupied with thoughts of gambling and his gambling activity became both impulsive and involved extensive planning in obtaining funds to gamble, including the use of crime.”
Another patient on Abilify described an increase in his gambling “to the extent of spending all of his money and it being ‘a reason to live’.”
In all cases, patients involved in the study reported a positive response in their psychotic symptoms. However, they also reported noticeable changes in their approach to gambling after being prescribed Abilify, experiencing strong compulsions to gamble that differed from reports of other gamblers. Each patient also reported a clear change in their thinking and behavior after they ceased taking the drug. They returned to a more recognizable state of occasional gambling urges that were easier to control.
Another 2010 study published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychology chronicled the story of a woman who took Abilify to treat schizophrenia. She gambled away thousands of dollars and gained nearly 20 pounds in six months. She had no prior history of gambling or compulsive eating.