Barb was prescribed Requip a few years ago for restless leg syndrome; she had 3 or 4 sleepless nights a week and it got to be debilitating. "Not sleeping well at night was making me tired throughout the day," she says. "I tried to take over-the-counter sleep meds but they made my restless leg issue worse so I just dealt with it--I'm not big on taking sleeping pills. But this was starting to wear me down; I was getting sick and gaining weight from not sleeping.
Then my family physician put me on Requip and I took one pill at bedtime. It did work at first but about three or four months in I started having compulsive behavior, such as shopping. I didn't realize I was doing it at first or I would have gotten some kind of help.
Then I started gambling: I literally lost $100,000-- I gambled away my life savings.
I had only gone to a casino once every few years before this drug came along. It got to the point that any time off meant going to a casino, all of my free time I was playing the slot machines.
It was crazy: I started taking $500 or $600 instead of the usual $100 that I used to play with. Before taking this drug, if I lost $100, it would be game over and I would walk away. Now I had all that cash plus my debit card to lose…
I was so ashamed of myself. At the end of the day, I would realize what I had done—I could have spent the money on necessities instead of blowing it at the casino. I have never taken risks or chances in my life, I have never played the stock market. And I was a single mum for a long time so I had to watch every penny I had.
I can't even say that I went to the casino to win money; I just went to gamble, I had to-- I couldn't stop. Even after feeling so bad the night before, the next morning, gambling was my first thought. And I suffered from other compulsive behaviors.
I had clothes I never even took out of the shopping bag. I compulsively ordered clothing online, from shoes and hats to shirts and pants, you name it. I'm talking thousands of dollars. Thankfully, most places let me return their merchandise, even though it was almost a year ago.
And I gained 100 lbs. I compulsively ate anything! I was eating when I wasn't even hungry.
Then it occurred to me that the gambling had something to do with the drug. Within 10 days after stopping Requip my gambling and shopping stopped, completely. And just like the gambling and shopping my compulsive eating stopped. I started to lose about 3lbs per week without even trying and I'm almost back to normal. And none of these compulsive behaviors came back.
Although my restless leg syndrome came back, I'd rather deal with that than lose everything with this drug.
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I never had a gambling problem before, I don't have it now and this was something that is directly attributed to Requip, it is beyond coincidence. As bad as it was, you don't lose $100,000 and just quit by yourself. Most people would have to get professional help of some kind; you don't just quit cold turkey from an addiction and don't suffer withdrawal or angst. This was a medically-driven addiction. There is no way it was psychological, that isn't how life works.
I think they should have to pay back the money I lost at the casino."