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Parkinson Drugs Might Increase the Risk of Developing Compulsive Behaviour

By jeremyc | June 21, 2018

The incidence rate of impulse control disorders is about 50 percent among Parkinson’s disease patients use dopamine agonists.

In Parkinson’s, dopamine is present in lower than adequate level. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in learning. It also helps control the reward and pleasure centers of the brain.

Drugs like heroin, cocaine, or alcohol stimulate dopamine production. People with low dopamine levels might be more susceptible to addiction. This neurotransmitter is also linked with impulse control disorders, like substance abuse, gambling, sex addiction, etc.

Parkinson’s patients have found to be prone to impulse control issues, like compulsive shopping, pathological gambling, compulsive eating, etc.

Drugs used for treating Parkinson’s disease increase the risk of impulse behavior among the patients. Dopamine agonists are most commonly used for treating Parkinson’s disease. This is because people with Parkinson’s are deficient in dopamine. Dopamine agonists work by stimulating the production of dopamine.

Previous studies that have investigated the association between the use of dopamine agonists and increased risk of impulse control disorders have thrown up mixed results: Some studies have suggested a link while others haven’t.

This study considered data of more people than any previous study on this subject. It also followed the participants for a longer period than other studies. The total number of people investigated were 411, all of whom have had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. About 87 percent of the participants (that is, 356 participants) had used dopamine agonists once or more after their diagnoses.

During the course of the study, 94 participants experienced impulse control problems. As per the experts, this means that the 5-year incidence rate of impulse control disorders was 46 percent among the participants.

In comparison, the incidence rate among participants who’d never used dopamine agonists was 12 percent.

The researchers studied several drugs. They found that the risk of compulsive behavior was the highest in case of ropinirole and pramipexole.

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