Are my husband's new addictive behaviors related to his Parkinson's medication?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband has parkinson and I think he has developed an addiction to the local strip clubs.His personality has changed and he lies alot about his activities out side of our home. I understand that the medicine can sometimes cause a person to have such addictions. He is in denial about his problems and blames me for everything wrong in our marriage. We have been together 19 years and married 7 years. I married him knowing he had this diease The

Expert Answers

Graham A. Glass, MD, is the deputy director of the San Francisco Parkinson's Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Care Center (PADRECC) and an assistant clinical professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He completed a fellowship in movement disorders at the Mayo Clinic.

Addictive and compulsive behaviors have been linked to some Parkinson's disease medications and we often reduce medications or alter medication regimens when we hear of this type of behavior. The "bad actors" in this regard are the dopamine agonists such as ropinirole and pramipexole (Requip and Mirapex). That being said, more literature seems to be showing that some patients with PD (up to 25%) may develop some degree of compulsive behaviors despite medication becuase Parkinson's can affect those areas of the brain. Typically, our approach is to titrate off of the potentially contributing medication while trying to control the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease with other medications. If this is not effective, sometimes adding other medications such as quetiapine can be helpful, although its always important to try to remove medications that may be causing this first.

Community Answers

Sassandahalf answered...

Absolutely, yes. My father has become very compulsive after and during 14 years of combinations of carbodopa, levadopa, etc. His behavior is irritating, but harmless.

I did read (Chicago Mgazine?) a few years ago of a woman lawyer, diagnosed in midlife with Parkinson's, who never gambled before, become addicting to gambling. She wiped her family out, and tried to commit suicide before someone figured out it was the Parkinson's meds. The article talked about gambling, sex addiction, and several other non-substance abuse compulsions.

I wish I could direct you to th article, but the is research on this already. I'm not sure what the treatment is either. Courage!

A fellow caregiver answered...

Agnonists cost my family more than $30,000 when I went on a compulsive slots binge.