Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Levodopa May Be Addictive

Popular Parkinson's Disease Treatment May Lead to Addiction
WebMD Health News

Nov. 24, 2003 -- People with Parkinson's disease may become completely dependent upon a drug commonly used to help restore their muscle function and retain their independence.

A new report suggests the popular Parkinson's disease drug levodopa may be addictive, especially in people who use the drug and do not actually have Parkinson's disease.

Although more research is needed on the possible addictive properties of levodopa in people with Parkinson's, researchers say the findings may help explain why people with Parkinson's disease frequently crave their next dose of levodopa.

"Although the impatience, the emotional dependence, and the craving to receive the next dose of levodopa might resemble addiction, this behavior has been attributed to the urge to overcome the incapacitating motor dysfunction," write researcher Israel Steiner, MD, of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, and colleague.

Stopping Levodopa May Lead to Withdrawal

But in a report published in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Neurology, researchers describe five people who displayed signs of addiction after being treated with levodopa for restless leg syndrome or an incorrect diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

According to the report, the patients suffered from psychological and physiological symptoms of addiction and withdrawal from the levodopa when they were weaned off the drug.

For example, one woman with restless leg syndrome who took levodopa increased her dosage of the drug by seven times without consulting her doctor and suffered from agitation, palpitations, diarrhea, and sweating when doctors tried to replace levodopa with another drug.

Researchers say that because levodopa works on the same reward center of the brain that has been associated with the addictive properties of other drugs like cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol, it's plausible that addiction to levodopa may develop.

They say their observation of the potential addictive properties of levodopa should be examined in larger studies involving people with and without Parkinson's disease.

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Eating Right
Parkinsons Exercise
daughter consoling depressed mother
senior man's hands
Parkinsons Daily