Vice Squad
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Parkinson's Disease and Internet Gambling

It has been known for some time that some drugs (dopamine agonists) used to treat Parkinson's disease raise the risk that the patient will become a pathological gambler. (Still sort of amazing, though, isn't it?) This week's British Medical Journal includes an editorial warning of the danger that easy access to internet gambling poses to Parkinson's patients. (The 6-page pdf including the editorial, along with four others, is here.) The editorial contains some statistics on problem gaming: about 1 percent of the adult population can be considered to be pathological gamblers, but 3.4 percent of Parkinson's sufferers fit the bill, while 7.2 percent of Parkinson's patients taking dopamine agonists are pathological gamblers. The editorial is timely in that proposed British regulations for internet gambling will soon be released.

The British Medical Journal frequently features articles relevant to vice policy researchers. A second editorial in this week's issue concerns the over-regulation of opiates prescribed for pain, while a news item notes that in former Soviet Georgia, excessive recreational use of buprenorphine -- an opioid that has shown much success in treating heroin addicts -- has become the nation's leading drug problem.

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