Dr. Matthew McMurray, gambling addiction, and the potential for treatment with psilocybin


A potential new addiction therapy may one day offer hope and help.

We don't know yet if it could be used to treat other addictions such as alcohol.

"I was 16 years old and drinking on the weekends, and by 18 I was a full-blown alcoholic because I could not stop," said Lori Kurlas.

But many say since gambling addictions can lead to feeling the way Lori Kurlas did until she got clean and sober.

“It took ten years to figure out, ‘Hey, I don't want to live anymore,’” said Kurlas.

We need research to specifically address gaming addictions.

“It’s a massive industry and there are all kinds of areas that allow for easy access,” said Dr. Jason Osborne.

Dr. Osborne is a professor in the Institute for Responsible Gaming, Lottery, and Sports at Miami University in Ohio.

He is part of a team working to provide a potential new therapy to help people gamble responsibly.

Preliminary data shows that it works, at least in rats.

“We have a rat casino in my lab, and it looks much like a normal casino might It’s got flashing lights and it plays fun sounds when you win or lose and we let our rats gamble for treats, so they get little sugar treats every time they win,” said Miami University researcher Matthew McMurray.

As you might imagine, the rats, according to McMurray, get hooked on gaming. These are not his actual research rats.

But McMurray also found, as a study from the NIH shows, a certain compound can change that. It’s called psylocibin.

It comes from magic mushrooms, but the hallucinogenic affect is taken out when given to the gambling addicted rats.

“It restores back healthy gambling, it’s not that they don’t gamble at all, it’s that they become normal, healthy gamblers just like we would ideally have people do,” said McMurray.

No word yet on when this team might be able to study this substance in people.

Dr. McMurray, a Faculty Fellow with our Institute for Responsible Gaming, Lottery, and Sport was recently interviewed for CBS-12 on the topic of addiction and how his lab is providing hope for a treatment for addictions of all types.