A group of Finnish researchers have recently announced the conduct of a study to test the effectiveness of a nasal spray, whose mission is to stop the desire of compulsive gamblers to succumb to their addiction.
The spray in question already exists: it is a spray made with a drug called naloxone. It is used in the emergency care of opiate overdoses (heroin, morphine or opium) and is able to block their effects by taking their place on the affected receptors.
The drug was developed as a nasal spray because the nose is a highly vascularized area, promoting rapid action of the injected product. The goal is to save the lives of those affected by drug overdose without resorting to heavier methods.
But this same nasal spray will soon be the subject of a study conducted by Finnish researchers, as indicated in a publication in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.
This research will focus on the treatment of addiction to gambling. According to the researchers, this disorder depends on specific neurotransmitters produced by opioid receptor activation.
These neurotransmitters include reward-related dopamine, pulse-controlling serotonin, norepinephrine (excitation), and endogenous opioids such as endorphin linked to cravings and motivation.
According to the researchers’ publication, the study will aim to verify that blocking opioid receptors can affect gambling addiction: “Playing responds to a very impulsive behavior (…). The need to play is immediate, that’s why we are looking for a fast-acting medication (…). The nasal spray works in minutes,” said Hannu Alho, professor of toxicology at the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Helsinki.
The nasal spray will be tested on 130 volunteers who are addicted to gambling for three months, half of whom will receive a placebo spray.
In the past, these same scientists had tried to conduct a similar experiment with capsules made of a substance similar to naloxone, without success. But, the effects of the drug did appear only one hour after the intake.