Parkinson’s disease sufferer becomes gambling addict as side effect of his medication

May 24, 2010 | by | 13 Comments

One of Britain’s youngest Parkinson’s disease sufferers blew £20,000 in three months after his medication made him addicted to GAMBLING.

Primary school teacher Richard Wenmouth, 28, got hooked on online casinos just days after being prescribed the drug Mirapexin to control his muscle spasms.

He joined 20 online gambling websites and opened dozens of accounts with bookies.

In one day he blew £2,600 after emptying his and fiancee Karen’s joint account betting on online roulette.

His gambling finally stopped after Karen, 42, tried to withdraw some cash and discovered there was just £4.70 in their account.

The couple are now considering legal action against the makers of Mirapexin, which is known to cause compulsive behaviour as a rare side-effect.

Richard said: ”It was like I was possessed. I couldn’t stop gambling. It became all I thought about all day and night.

”Often I just wanted to lose all my money so I would have to stop. It was frightening.”

The gambling got so bad Richard, from Stoke, Coventry, was spending an average of over £200 every day on his addiction.

Wife Karen, 42, a teaching assistant, said: ”I knew it wasn’t Richard who was gambling, it was the drug.

”I first noticed Richard became obsessed with eBay and would sell anything he could get his hands on and he sold all his DVDs and books.

”I once said to him, ‘You’re more interested in eBay than you are in spending time with me’.

”He was extremely devious about the way he would cover his tracks.

”He would gamble at night or when I was out of the house and covered his debts with huge loans he took out.

”We told Richard’s Parkinson’s nurse what was happening and she said it was probably caused by the Mirapexin which can cause compulsive behaviour and ordered him to stop taking it.

”As soon as he stopped taking the drug the gambling stopped. It was amazing but should never have happened in the first place.”

Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in December 2008 aged 26 after he struggled to pick up a pair of scissors at the school where he worked.

Years earlier he had broken his leg at university and his friends noticed he began shuffling his feet after he had recovered.

He was prescribed Mirapexin but in June was given a higher dosage to control the spasms in his limbs, but three weeks later he started spending thousands on gambling.

Between July and September he blew a staggering £20,000 on gambling and even spent £300 of his and Karen’s honeymoon fund to gamble on online bingo.

He said: ”I couldn’t stop. I spent all my savings and I could have lost everything.

”I had no feelings about spending all out money just before the wedding. I just had to bet.

”I knew it was wrong but I just couldn’t satisfy my need to gamble.

”It was buzz every time I put money down and I didn’t care if I won or lost, I just wanted to do it again and again.”

The couple are now considering taking legal action against the pharmaceutical company which produces Mirapexin.

Karen, who has two children Nathan, 14 and Lucy, 13, from a previous relationship said: ”Our lives have been ruined because of that drug which was supposed to help him.

”We want to warn other sufferers of this side-effect.

”We were told in rare cases the drug can cause compulsive behaviour but had no idea just how dangerous and devastating it could be.

”We are now £20,000 in debt on top of Richard having to cope with this terrible disease.”

Richard added: ”I just want some compensation because I could have lost everything.

”We were warned about the side effects but weren’t told how severe they could be.”

Richard now takes a low dosage of Levodopa which is the last resort medicine usually given to last-stage Parkinson’s sufferers.

Two years ago experts at the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neuro Surgery in Liverpool found that 3.5 per cent of the UK’s 120,000 Parkinson’s sufferers are gambling addicts.

And this figure rose to 7.2 per cent for those being treated with drugs like Mirapexin.

Richard has now written a book, entitled ‘Life Goes on – My Battle with Parkinson’s Disease’ about his experiences.

The book costs £7.99 or can be downloaded for £4.99 at www.parkinsonsaware.co.uk

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Comments (13)

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  1. Jonathon Woodgate says:

    Ridiculous!!!!

  2. Jonathon Woodgate says:

    Ridiculous!!!!

  3. James Hill says:

    I would love to know why Jonathon thinks it is 'ridiculous'? I've heard of some people being small minded…

  4. James Hill says:

    I would love to know why Jonathon thinks it is 'ridiculous'? I've heard of some people being small minded…

  5. Sarah says:

    I too would like to know why Jonathon thinks it's 'ridicuolous' Someone very close to me has suffered due to this drug and after losing tens of thousands of pounds gambling, he came off the drug and was suddenly 'cured!'

    Maybe if Jonathon took the time to look online at the number of other people who this has affected he wouldn't be quite so quick to judge!

  6. Sarah says:

    I too would like to know why Jonathon thinks it's 'ridicuolous' Someone very close to me has suffered due to this drug and after losing tens of thousands of pounds gambling, he came off the drug and was suddenly 'cured!'

    Maybe if Jonathon took the time to look online at the number of other people who this has affected he wouldn't be quite so quick to judge!

  7. janet johnson says:

    since being on mirapexin ive become a compulive gambler at the age of 43 i wish i wouldnt of took them because its the worst thing ive ever done i just want to go back to the person i used to be

  8. janet johnson says:

    since being on mirapexin ive become a compulive gambler at the age of 43 i wish i wouldnt of took them because its the worst thing ive ever done i just want to go back to the person i used to be

  9. jarrod says:

    Change your medication a.s.a.p. I was on Mirapexin for just over a year, when the Gambling started.Not just online but also visiting Book Makers to play thier machines, it took me 5 months to realise that I had a problem and as Richard lost alot of money and put myself into a diificult situation. Within weeeks of coming off Mirapexin I was back in the land of near normality. or for me at least

  10. jarrod says:

    Change your medication a.s.a.p. I was on Mirapexin for just over a year, when the Gambling started.Not just online but also visiting Book Makers to play thier machines, it took me 5 months to realise that I had a problem and as Richard lost alot of money and put myself into a diificult situation. Within weeeks of coming off Mirapexin I was back in the land of near normality. or for me at least

  11. Peter says:

    These drugs belong to a class known as "dopamine agonists" ("DAs"), and 1 in 7 Parkinson's sufferers who take DAs suffer from compulsive disorders to varying extent. I was on a DA for 7 years without knowing it was what was causing my own problems. These included gambling, excessive spending, hypersexuality, violence, theft and fraud (to feed the need for gambling). I lost my career, family, large house in Sussex (I now live in a rented slum in Humberside), and all my assets. In all over those 7 years I got through £2 million, using 4 bank accounts, 15 credit cards and the proceeds of scams. As soon as I found out the cause (DAs) I stopped taking the drug and everything returned to normal. Unfortunately by then I was (and still am) penniless, and still owing hundreds of thousands. I appeared in court 8 months ago charged with frauds, but was let off when an eminent neurology professor explained the situation to the judge. I have been utterly ruined and destroyed. STEER CLEAR OF THESE DRUGS!

  12. Peter says:

    These drugs belong to a class known as "dopamine agonists" ("DAs"), and 1 in 7 Parkinson's sufferers who take DAs suffer from compulsive disorders to varying extent. I was on a DA for 7 years without knowing it was what was causing my own problems. These included gambling, excessive spending, hypersexuality, violence, theft and fraud (to feed the need for gambling). I lost my career, family, large house in Sussex (I now live in a rented slum in Humberside), and all my assets. In all over those 7 years I got through £2 million, using 4 bank accounts, 15 credit cards and the proceeds of scams. As soon as I found out the cause (DAs) I stopped taking the drug and everything returned to normal. Unfortunately by then I was (and still am) penniless, and still owing hundreds of thousands. I appeared in court 8 months ago charged with frauds, but was let off when an eminent neurology professor explained the situation to the judge. I have been utterly ruined and destroyed. STEER CLEAR OF THESE DRUGS!

  13. deirdre says:

    Hi, I too have been to hell and back as a result of mirapexin – my marriage to a handsome good man destroyed- steer clear of this drug

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