Siegal & RichardsonLLP

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Compulsive gambling sometimes caused by Abilify

Some patients who have been taking Abilify for a mental or mood disorder have to worry about a new troublesome behavior: compulsive gambling. Other forms of compulsive behaviors, such as eating or shopping, are also possible on this drug. Because of the severity of this side effect, it is imperative that doctors carefully consider this risk and weigh it against the benefits of the drug.

The risk is recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In 2016, it issued a warning about these behaviors in people who are taking this brand name drug, or any others that contain aripiprazole.

Why is this harmful to patients?

The drug can cause impulse control problems. This can be very dangerous, depending on what types of impulses the person might have. In the case of compulsive gambling, the person is at risk of losing their assets. This can also impact the patient's family since they can lose their savings, family home or other vital possessions.

What are the signs of compulsive gambling?

Casual gamblers can walk away from betting when they reach a self-imposed limit or when they notice they are losing more than they feel comfortable with. A person who is compulsively gambling won't be able to do this. They might become so preoccupied that nothing else matters. They likely won't be able to stop and may try to win back their losses. They may steal or commit fraud to get the money they need to gamble more. They often ask to borrow money or may lie to loved ones to get their hands on more funds to put toward winning back their losses.

Should the patient stop taking the drug?

While it is noted that the impulse control issues stop when the patient is off the drug, no one should stop taking this drug without the help of their doctor. If you notice that you have a problem or have a loved one exhibiting these behaviors, contact the prescribing doctor for an appointment.

There have been lawsuits based on compulsive gambling behaviors while taking Abilify. If you are a patient suffering from this issue, learn about your rights to take action. You may also need to look into getting professional help to better manage your lack of impulse control.

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