When it comes to addiction treatment, it is safe to say that it has come a long way and there are newer methods of tackling this condition. There are specialty treatments such as TMS that enable individuals to get treatment for addiction in more potentially beneficial ways that do not require the use of more drugs.

TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a treatment procedure that is non-invasive and has produced positive results in the treatment of depression. Typically, it’s used as a repetitive kind of treatment referred to as rTMS whereby it is performed as a walk-in procedure. During the procedure, an electromagnet is put against the head of the patient near the forehead for small magnetic bursts to be released and stimulate the region of the brain that regulates mood control. Usually, TMS is utilized for patients suffering from depression who have yet to see any improvement from conventional treatment methods in the past. Even though the procedure has given positive results in patients, some research still needs to be conducted, particularly, in cases of TMS use for addiction.


Recent advances in neuroscience have given us some insight into how the brain controls desire and pleasure in relation to substance addiction. This has enabled us to see that it takes a lot more than a strong will for one to overcome addiction. Essentially, various treatment methods are utilized in addiction treatment, including treatment for co-existing mental health problems, detoxification, behavioral counseling, and medication. The method is believed to be an effective form of therapy for patients suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs, particularly if combined with other treatment methods.

How Does It Work?

The method works by targeting the specific region of the brain that controls depression and moods. There is a belief that people suffering from depression are only dealing with a region of the brain that is not as active as it is supposed to be. The stimulation provided by the electromagnetic coil will activate the section of the brain that is not working as frequently. Even though the understanding behind this science is not necessarily clear, there is still positive evidence that this stimulation activates the brain, thus alleviating the patient’s symptoms of depression. Although the treatment has had some modifications generally, it is accepted that the frequency and strength of the electromagnetic pulses must be dependent on the patient’s threshold for motor control. This can be ascertained by twitches observed by the physician conducting the therapy session. Since TMS can be conducted without any sedation on the patient and is noninvasive, the patient can still drive back home afterward without needing to worry about missing important responsibilities. It is crucial that the patient is open with the doctor about everything in order to determine whether this mode of treatment is appropriate for his or her case.

You should inform your doctor if you:

  • Have an already existing medical condition
  • Have a history of suffering from epilepsy or seizures
  • Are pregnant
  • Are suffering from any mental health disorders
  • Are already taking medications of any kind
  • Have any implants

TMS Use for Addiction Treatment

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has become an element of addiction treatment that is increasingly common. Treatment specialists are now incorporating TMS addiction treatment specifically in treating the dangerous symptoms associated with addiction more so for people who may be experiencing depression as one of the symptoms of withdrawal. rTMS or TMS can be helpful in stimulating the patient’s brain, thus restoring one’s control over his or her mood. rTMS use has also indicated positive signs in helping addicts to combat cravings, but the specific reasoning behind this is still unknown. Eleven out of sixteen people who participated in a double-blind study and received rTMS therapy to help with cocaine addiction found themselves rid of their addiction symptoms within a month of the TMS treatment. Only 3 people out of the group who received the standard treatment found themselves drug-free within the same time frame. Even though the research is promising, there still needs to be more testing and thus, TMS treatment should not be treated as the main form of treatment to end the addiction. As with other treatment interventions, it should only be incorporated into a treatment plan involving treatment medication in addition to other therapies. Great caution should also be taken into account when using TMS therapy as it is yet to be approved by the FDA.

Side Effects

Since TMS therapy use for addiction treatment is still a new intervention, this means the research on it to identify the long-term effects is still not much. Even though there are institutions founded on the probabilities of using TMS, it is still hard to conclude why the method works the way it does. One of the biggest attractions of this procedure is that there are no additional drugs required for the individual to fight cravings during treatment. Thus, this eliminates the temptation that some patients succumb to while they are still in the process of recovery. TMS obviously has its side effects as does any other treatment, but they are minimal and the occurrence of anything severe is rare. Some of the common side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle twitching, spasms, or tingling
  • Some discomfort at the area of stimulation on the body

There is the possibility of more severe side effects occurring but it is also unlikely. It appears that if the proper and necessary precautions are taken, then the risk for dangerous effects reduces significantly. The potential and more serious side effects of rTMS may include:

  • Hearing loss if the right ear protection is not provided
  • Mania in those patients who have bipolar disorder
  • Seizures

Most people do not realize how hard it is to look for recovery from addiction especially since there is no specific treatment that treats addiction completely. Each person is different, meaning what works for this individual may not work for another individual. Going through a relapse following rehabilitation may not be the patient’s fault, rather, it could be because the treatment received by the patient may not have been what was needed. If you feel that TMS therapy is something that could really help you, then it is important to reach out to an addiction treatment specialist to advise you accordingly.