Can a Nasal Spray Treat Gambling Addiction? Finland Aims to Find Out

Khryss | Published 2018-01-19 06:06

For those who don't know, gambling addiction is actually common in Finland and is becoming more and more of a problem. Almost 3 percent of Finns have this addiction with young men in poor socio-economic situations being affected the most. But a team of scientists at Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Helsinki may just have the solution: a humble nasal spray.

So, how will it help Finland kick their gambling habit?

The fast-acting nasal spray contains naloxone--a known competitive opioid antagonist which blocks the effects of opiods. It works by having the opiate receptors bind without activating them. This viably blocks them and along these lines, diminishes the impacts any opioid-containing drugs.

Addictive drugs and gambling processes through the same neural circuits very similarly. Naloxone and other opioid even inhibit brain cells from producing dopamine. That means, they wouldn't feel the "buzz" they usually get from winning.

With this, their trial received a go signal which includes 130 participants. They are to spray half of these with the one that contains naloxone for three months and the other half with a placebo spray.

But why the nasal spray when you can just intake the drugs? Well, administering it through the nose actually creates a quicker response as the nasal cavity is covered with blood vessels, making it faster to absorb.

“The urge to gamble is a very impulsive one. The need comes on very quickly. It could take up to an hour for a pill to work,” THL research professor Hannu Alho told Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. “But then we got this idea to dilute the medicine in water and develop a nasal spray. We assume it will work quickly. We studied the response rate at the University of Turku, and yes, it did seem to work in the space of just a few minutes."

Gambling machines were one completely normal part of their supermarkets. However, just last year THL scientists called for a ban. In reality, this "hidden addiction" won't be easily curbed and stopped but at least more and more research like this nasal spray provides hope on the possibility of that day to come.

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