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

Compulsions in Parkinson’s Tied to Treatment

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 8, 2013 -- Parkinson’s disease itself doesn’t seem to raise a person’s risk for compulsive addictions to things like gambling, shopping, or sex, a new study shows.

Compulsive behaviors affect about 14% of Parkinson’s patients treated with drugs such as dopamine agonists to ease symptoms like tremors, stiffness, and slowness.

In severe cases, the new addictions that people develop on the drugs can be devastating -- leading to ruined finances and relationships -- and they’ve generated a raft of lawsuits against drug manufacturers.

In November, a French man won a high-profile case against the company that sells Requip, which he said turned him into a sex and gambling addict. In 2008, a Minneapolis man won a case involving gambling addiction against the maker of Mirapex.

As a result, dopamine agonists now carry warnings about compulsive behaviors on their labels.

“A missing piece to the story was whether just Parkinson’s disease itself has any effect or plays any role on the risk of having these problems” without the drugs, says researcher Daniel Weintraub, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Tracking Impulsive Symptoms in Parkinson’s Patients

In the largest such study to date, Weintraub and his team set out to answer that question by screening a group of 168 newly diagnosed and untreated people with Parkinson’s for impulsive behaviors. The researchers compared them to a similar group of 143 healthy people who didn’t have the disease.

“What we found was that the reporting of symptoms of impulse control disorders was not any different in the two groups,” Weintraub says.

For example, 1.2% of people with Parkinson’s reported problems related to gambling compared to 0.7% of the healthy group. Compulsive buying behaviors were reported by 3% of the Parkinson’s group compared to 2.1% of the healthy group. About 7% of the Parkinson’s group reported compulsive eating compared to about 11% of the other group. And compulsive sexual behaviors were reported by 4.2% of the Parkinson’s group compared to 3.5% of the healthy group.

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