Gambling addiction? A nasal spray should help against the complaints

Just like drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction is a recognized disease. Not only does it have similar symptoms to other addictions, but it also leads to neglect of family and career. Social contacts are restricted. Gambling addicts are increasingly exposed to their negative feelings. The result: they play more and more. This can become an enormous emotional and economic burden. Finnish researchers who deal with gambling addicts now claim to have found an antidote: A nasal spray that suppresses the urge to play.

In fact, the scientists working at the National Institute for Health and Social Affairs in Helsinki want to start a long-term study in the next few weeks and test the nasal spray in use. So far, there has been no suitable drug for gambling addiction that supports the healing process. With the nasal spray this should now succeed in connection with psychotherapeutic measures. It is important that the patient is not only treated with medication, but is also accompanied by behavioural therapy and the like. The nasal spray naloxone, which is supposed to keep the players from gambling, is a so-called opioid antagonist. This substance is used in anaesthesiology and emergency medicine. Interestingly, it is also used in psychiatry as a drug against alcohol addiction and in the withdrawal from various drugs.

The active ingredient of naloxone

The human body possesses γ hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). This is a neurotransmitter which has dopaminergic effects, i.e. releases dopamine. With the help of an opioid antagonist, the effect of dopamine in the organism can be neutralized. If you don’t know what dopamine is, this substance excites the brain and is also known as happiness hormone. It is usually associated with pleasure and reward. The nasal spray with naloxone is supposed to block the production of dopamine in affected gambling addicts within a few minutes and thus suppress the feeling of pleasure for casino games and other games of chance. The drug thus enables an easy and pleasant escape from addiction. In the study the effect is again examined. 130 people took part in the study. It will last more than a year and will be led by Professor Hannu Alho.

What problems are there with the nasal spray?

The problem with the active substance is that earlier approaches and experiments have already failed. Naloxone does not work fast enough as a tablet due to its slow absorption in the blood. However, since gambling requires rapid action and the impulse to play must be stopped immediately, it requires a drug form that works immediately. The nasal spray is supposed to make this possible. Another problem is that only a few percent of gambling addicts in Germany engage in professional therapy. In addition, those affected cannot imagine complete abstinence. In the future completely without the gambling to do, is not possible for many players. Recidivism is often inevitable. Whether the gambling consumption with the nose spray can be reduced bit by bit, is therefore questionable, although not impossible. However, the drug must first be approved for this purpose.