Background: Aripiprazole (ARI), an antipsychotic drug used to treat various mental health disorders, has recently been associated with the emergence of problem gambling (PBG). However, few cases have been reported in the schizophrenia-related psychotic disorders population, and even fewer provided sufficient details to systematically assess the causality of the association.
Methods: This article describes 6 cases with first-episode psychosis in whom PBG emerged while on ARI. Detailed information was gathered from clinical staff and patients' families to systematically assess the causal link between ARI and the emergence of PBG using the Naranjo and Liverpool Adverse Drug Reaction scales.
Findings: Five of these cases were previously diagnosed with a substance use disorder and/or cluster B personality traits. Five had received a more potent dopaminergic antagonist treatment before being switched to ARI. Two of them had presented PBG before being diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The level of certainty about the causal role of ARI varied from possible to certain, and in 4 cases, the 2 scales yielded different ratings.
Implications: Although these cases suggest that ARI may be associated with the emergence of PBG in the early course of schizophrenia-related psychotic disorders, they cannot prove the causality or the strength of this association. They provide the impetus to perform adequately powered and well-controlled prospective studies to draw more definite conclusion about the causality of this association and, in the meantime, further emphasize the need to carefully assess PBG in this population.