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This controversial drug may help cure gambling addictions

"Gambling problems devastate lives and we urgently need new treatments."

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Gambling addicts in the UK are to be given the illegal party drug ketamine - in a bid to cure them of their addiction.

Scientists predict that the controversial tranquillizer, known as Special K by clubbers, can stop problem gambling.

It may herald the first medication for gambling addiction. It's estimated that as many as 10 million Americans live with a gambling addiction.

Exeter University is now recruiting participants who will be treated with ketamine.

Volunteers must be over 18, fluent in English - and regularly gamble. The trial will last a month.

Psychotherapist Professor Celia Morgan said: ‘"The study is the first of its kind in the world.

"Gambling problems devastate lives and we urgently need new treatments.

"We feel privileged to be running this innovative and important study at the University of Exeter and hope this may eventually lead to new treatment options for people struggling with gambling problems."

Her team hopes the anesthetic will combat urges. Just a small dose blocks a receptor involved in learning.

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Experts are discovering more about the link between memory and reward-seeking.

They want to look at how they are important to those who use drugs and alcohol or engage in other unhealthy behaviors - such as gambling.

Added Morgan: "The research will involve participants undergoing a screening process prior to the experiment for eligibility reasons.

"This includes health-related questions and physical tests such as blood pressure measurements.

"Volunteers will be taking part in the experiment for 30 days and their time will be compensated in vouchers."

Ketamine is commonly used for pain relief and increasingly as an antidepressant.

Recreational users say it creates a 'floaty' feeling where the mind and body feel detached.

During surgery, it puts the patient in a trance-like state so they can't feel pain, while also acting as a sedative.

It was discovered in 1962 and was used in casualty clearing stations in the Vietnam war as an anesthetic.

But its mind-altering effects have made it a popular party drug. The hallucinatory experience is commonly known as being K-holed.

It was not until the late 1980s and the arrival of rave culture that it really took off as a recreational drug.

Ketamine is a Class B drug in the UK, meaning it is illegal to take, give away or sell.
Anyone caught with the drug faces up to five years behind bars.

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