New research – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

rTMS – a useful tool in treating cocaine addiction?

addiction treatment

Cocaine is a drug that is extensively abused and is extremely addictive. However, there is no approved pharmacotherapy to treat addiction, and behavioural/psychological approaches generally have limited success.

A new study, published in the Open Journal of Depression, by our Medical Director, Dr Leigh Neal and colleagues at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust suggests that repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) could hold the key to effective treatment for cocaine addiction.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a form of neuromodulation: a safe and effective technique where a purpose‑made electromagnetic coil is placed against the patient’s scalp to deliver short, powerful magnetic pulses which induce electric currents in the cerebral cortex. The treatment is painless and has minimal side effects so patients can go back to work, drive etc. immediately afterwards.

Evidence suggests that rTMS results in changes in brain activity, metabolism and connectivity.  rTMS stimulates parts of the brain which are involved in craving and has been shown in research and clinical settings to help reduce cocaine craving and consumption.

The rTMS treatment protocol for cocaine addiction requires 15 sessions of rTMS over three weeks.  Typically, the patient experiences an abrupt cessation of craving at about day seven, with the additional treatment serving to reinforce the effect and increase the durability.

The study looked at 10 cocaine addiction patients, treated between 2018 and 2019. Results showed a significant reduction in cocaine craving and depression scores.

Read the full article here.


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