Gambling addicts are being prescribed craving-beating drugs at a cost of nearly £10,000-a-year each to the NHS, according to reports.
The medication is usually given to those with severe drug and alcohol problems, but its use has been extended to gamblers unable to fight their urges by other means, it is said.
The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London has become the first to prescribe naltrexone, which costs £800 per patient a month, and last year GPs referred almost 1,000 problem gamblers to the clinic, The Times reports.
Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a researcher from the clinic, told the newspaper: "The medication is used to stop the most compulsive gamblers who are resistant to treatment. It helps stop craving."
According to The Times there are more than half a million problem gamblers in Britain and calls to the country's leading helpline rose by a third last year.