The small study will begin later this year and seeks to further understand brain function in gambling disorder.
The Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London recently announced an upcoming study involving psychedelics as part of treatment for gambling addiction (1). Following the Centre’s recent studies with psychedelic therapies for depression, this study aims to test the safety and therapeutic potential of psilocybin for gambling addiction along with the potential for treating other addictions (2). The study, reported to be the first of its kind, will be beginning in October this year and include five participants along with a control group (1,2).
“The main purpose of the study is to measure how the brain’s so-called reward system reacts while engaged in gambling-related activities and while exposed to gambling-related stimuli in men addicted to gambling and age-matched non-gambling healthy individuals (‘controls’),” stated the recruitment page for the study (1).
As part of the study visits, the participants will first have a health screening and anElectroencephalogram (EEG) test (1). Participants will receive psilocybin and talk therapy and perform gambling tasks or watch gambling-related video clips, and researchers will track changes in the participants’ brains reward systems using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (1,2).
“The current clinical treatment paradigm for gambling addiction in the UK is a psychosocial intervention such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with some patients being prescribed naltrexone off-label,” stated Rayyan Zafar, PhD, a researcher for the study (3). “To date, there are no licensed pharmacological interventions for Gambling Disorder.”
“Given the similarities in clinical and brain characteristics between substance use addictions and behavioural addictions we believe psychedelics may be able to target the same psychological and physiological mechanisms underlying this condition,” Zafar added (3).
According to Imperial College London, the study has received funding from United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) (2). Anyone interested in participating in the study can self-refer to the National Problem Gambling Clinic (1).