Risk of Gambling from Abilify Side Effects Confirmed in New Study

The findings of a new study provide further evidence to support claims that side effects of Abilify cause compulsive gambling problems for users of the atypical antipsychotic, with bipolar patients facing a high risk. 

In a report released this week, ahead of print in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers found that users of Abilify (aripiprazole) may be more than five times as likely to develop pathological gambling habits than those who do not use the drug. Similar findings were seen with Mirapex and Requip, two other medications that have long been linked to a risk of gambling.

All three drugs are known as dopamine agonists. However, the findings have the most relevance in confirming that Abilify compulsive gambling risks, since both Mirapex and Requip, which are used to treat Parkinson’s Disease, have long carried warnings of the risks of impulsive behavior.

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The first gambling warnings for Abilify were not added to the drug label in the United States until May 2016, and the makers of the antipsychotic face an increasing number of Abilify lawsuits over failing to previously warn users and the medical community about the importance of monitoring for sudden urges to gamble or engage in other compulsive behaviors after starting to use the drug, or increasing dose.

In this latest study, researchers from the University of British Columbia looked at data from 355 cases of gambling disorder and 4,341 cases of impulse control disorder, and matched them with about 47,000 corresponding controls. The findings suggest that users of Abilify faced a 523% increased risk of pathological gambling when compared to those who did not take the drug. The risk of impulse control disorder was nearly eight times higher, and similar to risk levels associated with Mirapex and Requip.

Researchers indicate that they initiated the study in response to the FDA’s decision to add gambling warnings to Abilify in May, noting that there has been a lack of large epidemiologic studies to back up the agency’s warning. However, their findings confirm the gambling risk from Abilify side effects, indicating that the results are consistent with what the FDA found.

“The FDA analysis seems to have examined self-reported cases of impulse control problems with [Abilify], which on their own cannot demonstrate a link with aripiprazole,” Dr. Mahyar Etminan and the other study authors note. “Epidemiological studies are needed to quantify this risk simultaneously controlling for potential confounding issues. Given that approximately 1.5 million people are prescribed [Abilify] in the United States annually, this serious adverse event should be more rigorously examined through a well-designed epidemiological study.”

Abilify Gambling lawsuits

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals currently face a growing number of product liability lawsuits throughout the U.S., over the failure to warn about the link between Abilify and gambling. Plaintiffs indicate that European drug labels were updated to provide information about the gambling risk as early as 2012, but no such warnings were provided in the U.S. until earlier this year.

The FDA required the drug makers to update the warning label in May 2016, providing information for users and doctors about the importance of monitoring Abilify users for gambling problems, compulsive shopping and other impulsive activities. The regulatory agency noted that a large number of adverse event reports have been received from users describing uncontrollable urges to gamble, shop, eat or engage in sexual activity.

Addictive gambling problems on Abilify can have a severe impact on users, causing severe financial losses and behavior that can destroy families, reputations and cause irreparable damage to an individual’s quality of life. Plaintiffs allege that if warnings had been provided about the risk of impulsive behaviors, they may have avoided devastating consequences by recognizing the potential side effects associated with the medication and stopping use of the drug.


  • JoeDecember 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I would like to thank Abilify. It motivated me to go to Vegas in during a high-stakes craps game I put down $3000 on hard six. The shooter then rolled a hard six. I now have $90,000 and it changed my life. I am happier than ever. Thank you thank you, Abilify

  • SusanDecember 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I was on Abilify 10 years of hell, & didn't know it's effects on addictions. Talk about good gone bad :(

  • PiaDecember 15, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I had taken this drug and I had a horrible addiction to gambling while on this drug. I ended up filling bankruptcy so I would not lose my house. I still struggling with the affect of coming out of the money problems

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