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RLS Drug Triggered Serious Gambling Addiction

Gambling on Requip for RLS ruined this reader's life.

Q. I have had restless leg syndrome (RLS) for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on a lot of different medications that did not work.

When I started taking ropinirole (Requip) several years ago, I found that it also caused me to have strong urges to gamble. This has become a very bad problem for me, not only financially but mentally. I cannot control the urge. Is there any other medication for RLS that does not have this side effect?

A. Restless leg syndrome is usually described as a distressing feeling in the legs that is relieved only by moving them.

Medication Side Effects

Medications approved to treat RLS are also used for Parkinson’s disease. They include pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip) and rotigotine (Neupro). These drugs are known to trigger uncontrollable urges to eat, gamble, shop or have sex. Most people think such behaviors are under voluntary control, but people taking such drugs may feel helpless to stop themselves (JAMA Internal Medicine, Oct. 20, 2014).

Other Approaches

The FDA has not approved other drugs for RLS, though doctors may prescribe the anticonvulsant gabapentin (Neurontin). Some people find iron supplements or melatonin help relieve the symptoms. As silly as it sounds, many people with RLS tell us that soap under the bottom sheet also helps.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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