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TMS Therapy for Addiction

TMS Therapy for Addiction

Published: May 24, 2022

Drug and alcohol addiction is characterized by physical changes in the brain that reinforce drug-seeking behaviors. For decades, scientists have been looking for ways to alter and reverse these neurological states, facilitating recovery and sobriety.

In recent years, research has shown that TMS therapy, a non-invasive brain stimulation therapy, can effectively stimulate brain areas, leading to pronounced changes in mood and behavior. Studies have found that it can reduce cravings, consumption, and days of abstinence across various substances. It's an exciting, innovative treatment that could turn your life around.

What Is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is an innovative mental wellness treatment that uses gentle magnetic stimulation to alter brain activity in some regions of nerve cells, causing pronounced changes in mood and behavior. TMS is a noninvasive procedure with few side effects. Cleared by the FDA in 2008 for treatment-resistant depression and in 2018 for obsessive-compulsive disorder, TMS is a practical, evidence-based treatment for various mental health conditions.

How Does TMS Work?

People living with mental disorders often have unusual brain activity in some brain regions. These increased or decreased activity levels are associated with changes in mood and behavior, such as low mood, anxiety, and addition.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy uses trains of repeated magnetic pulses to affect brain activity, improving symptoms of mental health conditions. TMS treatment uses a metal helmet containing an electromagnetic coil that the TMS physician places over the client's head. Electricity passes through the loop, inducing a series of magnetic fields in the target areas of the brain. These magnetic fields create small electric currents in the brain cells, stimulating neuronal activity.

A typical course of rTMS consists of daily sessions for four to six weeks, followed by a few weeks of tapering off sessions. rTMS sessions are between 20 and 40 minutes long, and you can resume normal activities immediately after each session. Clients remain conscious throughout the procedure and can communicate with the physician.

Can TMS Therapy Be Used for Alcohol Addiction?

Brain images and animal studies of alcohol addiction show that long-term alcohol abuse causes physical changes in the brain's reward circuits.

When you drink alcohol, your brain is flooded with dopamine, a chemical associated with reward and motivation. With repeated alcohol use, your brain adapts to the high level of dopamine by slowing down its dopamine systems.

Clinical studies suggest that there may be a link between high alcohol consumption and depressed dopamine transmission. Scientists posit that artificially stimulating the dopamine system may help protect against alcoholism. In rodents, animals with high alcohol preference consumed less alcohol after scientists stimulated dopamine receptors in their brains.

In light of this research, TMS scientists explored using high-frequency rTMS therapy to "boost" the dopamine system by targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain. Studies have found that TMS treatment can reduce cravings for alcohol and decrease alcohol consumption in clients. Further research found that it may increase days of abstinence in people recovering from alcohol use disorder.

These findings show that TMS is a safe and effective treatment for alcohol addiction that may be offered alongside other treatment options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, social support, and pharmacotherapy. In 2021, TMS therapy for addiction received CE approval in the European Union.

Related article: TMS for eating disorders

Can TMS Therapy Be Used for Drug Addiction?

Like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and addiction cause long-term changes in the brain, addictive substances affect the brain's reward system and dopamine activity similar to alcohol, opening the possibility of treating addiction with brain stimulation.

Studies have found that participating in TMS therapy can reduce cravings in clients living with cocaine use disorder. One clinical trial suggested that TMS may be more effective in stopping cocaine abuse than standard medical treatment. TMS therapy for substance abuse often had lower dropout rates than other addiction treatment options.

Overall, research confirms the potential of TMS treatment in treating addiction, including cocaine addiction and alcohol addiction. As a safe option without the side effects of medication, it may be a lifeline for many clients living with substance use disorders.

Using TMS to Treat Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are serious public health problems in the United States and worldwide. Substance abuse disorders affect over 20 million people in the United States and are a leading cause of disease, death, and lost productivity.

Providing practical and accessible substance abuse treatment is an integral part of maintaining and improving mental and physical well-being across the nation. While there have been incredible advances in science and treatment technology in recent decades, there is still some way to go. In particular, many of the medications designed to act on the neurological effects of addiction come with many side effects, are not fully effective, or have high dropout rates.

TMS therapy offers an alternative to medication that directly alters the neurological states that drive addictive behavior. High success rates and few side effects can play an essential role in reversing the brain changes resulting from addiction and setting the stage for long-lasting recovery.

Addiction treatment providers may offer TMS therapy as part of a more comprehensive program of behavioral therapies and other treatment approaches. TMS can work in tandem with other therapies, reducing cravings and facilitating abstinence while clients develop the skills and coping mechanisms to achieve long-term sobriety.

TMS Treatment for Alcoholism at GIA

At GIA Miami, we offer TMS treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction, and other mental health conditions. As pioneers in TMS therapy, we apply the latest scientific research and most advanced technologies to our programs, providing you with a world-leading treatment experience.

Our founder, Dr. Bonci, has co-authored groundbreaking research into the use of TMS for substance abuse. His work led to the 2021 CE certification of TMS as a safe and effective treatment for addiction. At GIA, he applies his unrivaled knowledge to our treatment programs, so you can directly benefit from his expertise.

At GIA, we know that every client is different. We begin each treatment program with an in-depth assessment using modern diagnostic technologies. Our team of expert psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, addiction treatment specialists, and other professionals use this insight to design an individualized treatment plan to suit your unique needs. We continually monitor, evaluate, and improve your plan as your progress through treatment.

Our alcoholism treatment programs combine various approaches tailored to suit each client. Clients who participate in TMS therapy may do so alongside other treatment approaches, including:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • dialectical behavioral therapy
  • family therapy, couples therapy

Our Facilities

We match our clinical expertise with state-of-the-art facilities to deliver TMS therapy and other treatments effectively. We ensure that we have the most up-to-date, specialized TMS equipment at all times. Our center is modern, light, and open, offering a calm atmosphere where clients can relax between sessions and prepare for treatment.

We offer TMS as an outpatient treatment, with clients attending daily sessions over several weeks. Our center in downtown Miami is easily accessible by car, with plenty of on-site parking. We work to fit your treatment around your daily schedule, making recovery easy and stress-free.

Related: TMS Therapy at home

Contact Us Today

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact us today. We're here to help you overcome substance abuse and become the best version of you.

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