Does Effexor Cause Compulsive Gambling?

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Does Effexor Cause Compulsive Gambling?

By McCarton Ackerman 07/23/12

Numerous gambling addicts claim their problems began after they were prescribed the common anti-depressant.

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Betting on the wrong drug. Photo via

Medical experts and problem gamblers are claiming a surprising link between the common anti-depressant Effexor and gambling addiction. Although there's no clinical proof of this so far, numerous gambling addicts have reportedly come forward to claim that they began gambling compulsively after being prescribed the drug. Tim Hiller says his gambling habits started immediately after he was prescribed Effexor to treat both depression and OCD; the former investment banker went into financial ruin after making several weekly $1,000 bets on Aussie rules football games. He even once bet $80,000 on a tennis match. "I thought I'd feel upset, but because of the medication I was on, and the blunting effect that it had on me, I didn't feel much at all," he says. "I actually went to sleep and got up the next day and was fairly normal." Leanne Scott, who is currently serving two years in jail for fraud after stealing $800,000 to feed her poker machine habit, says she started taking Efexor in late 2003—and her problem gamblling started months after. "I'm actually [undergoing] therapy at Statewide Gambling therapy service, and my counselor says she is actually seeing a lot of people who are taking Efexor," she says. Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, director of Psychiatric Research at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital in Australia, can believe it: "I think here we could have a link in the neurochemical sense between the use of a medication that increases two neurochemicals, seratonin and noradrenalin, and the development of new problem gambling behaviors."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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