The neuropsychopharmacology of pathological gambling


Pathological gambling (PG) is an impulse control disorder with prevalence estimates in the range of 0.2-2% in the general population. PG can significantly impact one's ability to function as it may negatively influence social, financial, and occupational aspects of life. Historically, PG has received relatively little attention from researchers and clinicians, and few treatments, particularly pharmacological, have been both validated and widely employed. Given the clinical relevance of PG, it is important that researchers examine pharmacological and behavioral treatments for their safety and efficacy and that clinicians use empirically validated therapies. Multiple neurochemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and opioids, and related neurocircuitry, particularly ventral cortico-striatal pathways, have been implicated in PG. The neurobiological rationale for therapies, particularly pharmacological ones, is reviewed with a perspective on the generation of improved prevention and treatment strategies for PG.

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