An open-label trial of acamprosate in the treatment of pathological gambling

Donald W. Black, Dennis P. McNeilly, William J. Burke, Martha C. Shaw, Jeff Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The efficacy and tolerability of acamprosate has been tested in the treatment of pathological gambling (PG). Acamprosate is known to reduce alcohol craving and use in persons with alcohol dependence, and it has been hypothesized that the drug would have a similar effect in individuals with PG. METHODS: Participants with DSM-IV criteria for PG received acamprosate in an 8-week, open-label trial following a 2-week observation. The primary efficacy measure was the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale modified for PG (Y-BOCS-PG). Secondary efficacy measures included the Gambling Severity Assessment Scale (GSAS), the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Improvement and Severity Scales, a patient self-rated global rating, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), and the Timeline Follow Back (TLFB). The study was conducted at 2 sites. RESULTS: Twenty-six participants (11 men, 15 women) had at least 1 post-baseline visit and were included in the analysis. Twenty participants (77%) completed the protocol. Significant improvement was observed in Y-BOCS-PG and GSAS scores, both CGI scales, a patient self-rated global scale, all 3 SDS subscales, and number of gambling episodes. Seventeen participants (65%) were considered responders (ie, achieved "much" or "very much" improvement). Improvements on the HDRS, in money wagered, and in time spent gambling were not significant. Few adverse events were reported. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that acamprosate is well tolerated and may be effective in the treatment of PG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-256
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Acamprosate
  • Impulse-control disorders
  • Pathological gambling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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