The University of Exeter (UoE) has launched a behavioural, addiction and memory (BAM) study to explore how formative experiences can influence negative gambling behaviours or habits.
BAM study researchers will test ketamine on participants to examine their memories and whether they determine negative outcomes.
Ketamine, which blocks a receptor important for learning and memory, is used as a common anaesthetic by doctors to treat anxiety, depression, and trauma.
However, it has often been used for nefarious purposes, as larger doses can have psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects on users.
The UoE’s research will be led by Professor Celia Morgan, an expert in psychopharmacology which tests the use of different medications to treat mental health conditions.
Morgan explained the importance of the “first-of-a-kind study” and whether it can provide vital insights into how medication treatments can curb problem gambling’s psychological factors
“Gambling problems devastate lives and we urgently need new treatments,” she told ITV News.
“We feel privileged to be running this innovative and important study at University of Exeter and hope this may eventually lead to new treatment options for people struggling with gambling problems.”
UoE has begun the study’s research phase, in which it seeks participants to test a low dose of ketamine.
“We are beginning to understand more about memory processes and how they help us respond to rewards, such as food, money and drugs.
“We think these memories may be important in people using drugs and alcohol or engaging in unhealthy behaviours gambling behaviours.”