TMS and Smoking Addiction – The Evidence

The NHS has several recommendations to help you stop smoking. These include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which can include nicotine patches, gum and sprays. NRT provides small amounts of nicotine to help reduce cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. Side effects of these treatments can include: vivid dreams, headaches, dizziness, skin irritation and an upset stomach.

Champix (Varenicline) tablets, which are only available on prescription, make smoking less enjoyable and help to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. The medication isn’t safe when pregnant or breastfeeding, nor if you suffer from kidney problems. It can cause nausea, vomiting, insomnia and dizziness, amongst several other symptoms.

Buproprion (Zyban) can also be prescribed to help reduce cravings. This, too, is not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding and also isn’t suitable for those living with epilepsy, bipolar or eating disorders. The side effects are very similar to Champix.

Other methods can include using e-cigarettes and exercise to distract yourself from your cravings.

What is the evidence for TMS treatment for smoking addiction?

A study in 2003 lead to the discovery of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation being effective in treating smoking addictions. When combined with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), TMS was proven to be effective in reducing cravings associated with the addiction to cigarettes.

Further studies have been carried out over a number of years. During one such research project, 37 people who were addicted to smoking were given either sham TMS or real TMS. By the end of the 10 sessions of treatment, 16 out of the 18 patients treated with real TMS had completely stopped smoking, whereas only 9 of the 19 patients treated with sham treatment had managed to stop. With 89% of patients avoiding their cravings entirely, compared to 47% of patients who were able to stop without the help of TMS, reports were published acknowledging TMS as providing “promising results”.

What’s the verdict? Can TMS treat smoking addiction?

At Smart TMS, our results are very similar to those demonstrated within the various trials, with a high percentage of our patients reporting reduction in their cravings which allowed them to stop smoking entirely. If you’re serious about stopping smoking, your clinician can talk to you about additional talking therapies that may help alongside TMS treatment to maximise the result.

Find out more

As you may have experienced when trying to quit smoking yourself, the addictive cravings are very tricky to combat. With 75% of smokers relapsing due to the cravings, you’re not alone if you have tried to give up but been unsuccessful. Contact our friendly, knowledgeable team of patient advisors who will talk you through TMS and the response/remission rates we have seen since offering treatment for smoking and nicotine addiction to help you make the best decision for you.


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