Drug addiction is an illness that often requires multiple treatments to cure. However, a new treatment seems to promise a whole new world of potential for people who are suffering from addiction: transcranial magnetic stimulation. Although this procedure hasn’t yet been approved for use in treating addiction, early studies have shown a lot of promise.
What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is primarily a treatment for people that suffer from depression. It utilizes magnetic fields to help stimulate vitally important nerve cells in the brain, cells that improve mood and eliminate symptoms of depression. Typically, transcranial magnetic stimulation is used when other treatments (such as medicine or behavioral control) are ineffective.
Small magnetic coils are placed on your scale on your forehead and create a pulse in your brain. People that finish a session of transcranial magnetic stimulation report feeling decreased symptoms of depression and an overall better sense of mood.
Evidence supporting transcranial magnetic stimulation as an effective depression treatment has been positive. Although doctors aren’t quite sure exactly how it works, the high volume of people that have reported decreased depression symptoms has been promising.
How May It Help Addiction?
The potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation for use as an addiction treatment wasn’t really given much thought until a recent discovery by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. This group did a study on mice and rats that were addicted to cocaine and found that they had very low levels of prefrontal cortex activity.
This area of the brain is primarily responsible for complex cognitive behaviors, personality control, and social behavior. The researchers decided to stimulate the prefrontal cortex using an invasive procedure called “optogenetics” to see if it would have any affect on the mouse’s addiction to cocaine.
Surprisingly, they found that the mice immediately showed decreased signs of addiction. This results caused the mind of the researchers to race as they considered a potentially application for humans. And thankfully, they thought of a non-invasive way to stimulate the prefrontal cortex: transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Does It Work?
An experiment in 2013 seems to have at least partially confirmed the effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation when treating people with addiction. The University of Padova Medical School in Italy treated 32 addicted patients and treated half with traditional methods and the other half with transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The results were staggering: 11 of the 16 people treated with the magnetic therapy beat their addiction and stayed clean. Only three from the other group reported the same results. They even found that people who had utilized the procedure who tried cocaine later were less likely to relapse.
It’s important to understand that this procedure still needs to be further tested before confirming it’s effectiveness. However, it is worth keeping an eye on this treatment, especially if it remains a potential treatment option.
Are There Any Risks?
Like any medical procedure, there are risks associated with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Thankfully, it’s non-invasive nature means most of these risks are fairly minimal and easily treatable. These side effects include:
- A light feeling in the head
- Spasms of facial muscles
- Discomfort on the scalp
- Slight hearing loss
- Potential seizures
The last three problems are fairly uncommon and mostly concern people with pre-existing conditions. For example, mania may be triggered in people with bipolar while seizures are more likely in those who suffer from epilepsy. However, it’s still worth considering these problems before trying this treatment method.
Keeping Track Of The Program
The potential of this procedure makes it something that anyone who is suffering from addiction should keenly follow. If you’re interested in learning more about this procedure and how it can help you recover from addiction, please contact us at DrugRehab.org. Our friendly counselors understand these treatment breakthroughs and are more than capable of helping you.