Some people who are taking medications for Parkinson’s disease are finding themselves addicted to shopping, sex, overeating and several other vices that are deeply and negatively impacting their lives.
These medications, known as dopamine agonists, are causing patients to lose self control and act out on urges never previously experienced.
The Food and Drug Administration may insist on a “black box” warning, letting people know that these side effects can happen. A black box warning is a listing of the most serious (and sometimes fatal) side effects that can occur due to taking the medication listed.
The ingredients pramipexole (brand name Mirapex) and ropinirole (brand name Requip) are at the center of this controversy.
The drugs stimulate the dopamine receptors in the body. These medications are also used for restless leg syndrome.
Dopamine receptors are found in the central nervous system and can offer “feel-good” sensations. But these drugs' feel-good sensations are not good for some of those taking the medications.
While they work well for the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s, doctors have reported patients losing everything due to irrational and compulsive actions.
According to an NPR report, “The researchers from the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, Harvard and the University of Ottawa found 1,580 adverse drug events involving impulse control disorders. A little less than half, or 710 reports, were associated with dopamine receptor agonist drugs.”
There is no cure yet for Parkinson’s. The disease itself is a disorder of the central nervous system and is progressive. It inhibits a person’s ability to move and causes tremors. It’s not known exactly why people get it but there are thought to be both genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s don’t happen overnight. But if you notice the following symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible:
- "Pill-rolling" tremor in the hands
- Tremors are present at rest, improve with movement, and are absent during sleep
- Stiffness and rigidity of muscles, usually beginning on one side of the body
- Difficulty and shuffling when walking