NEURO WELLNESS SPA

TMS & ADDICTION RELAPSE PREVENTION

How can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Help with Addiction Relapse Prevention?

NEURO WELLNESS SPA

TMS & ADDICTION RELAPSE PREVENTION

How can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Help with Addiction Relapse Prevention?

RELAPSE PREVENTION IN ADDICTION USING TMS

The Department of Health and Human Services declared opioid addiction a public health emergency after federal estimates reported 70,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2017. “At last count, more than 2 million Americans were addicted to heroin or prescription opioids, the umbrella term for painkillers like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. …Owing in part to the spike in overdose deaths, for the first time in decades, the American life expectancy is declining.” (Bahler 2018).

 

Although research over the past 50 years has demonstrated that addiction is a brain disease, there has been a critical void in developing methods of treating addiction. Researchers do not know exactly what causes an individual to become addicted to a drug. However, they have identified changes that occur in the brain as a result of drug abuse.

RELAPSE PREVENTION IN ADDICTION USING TMS

The Department of Health and Human Services declared opioid addiction a public health emergency after federal estimates reported 70,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2017. “At last count, more than 2 million Americans were addicted to heroin or prescription opioids, the umbrella term for painkillers like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. …Owing in part to the spike in overdose deaths, for the first time in decades, the American life expectancy is declining.” (Bahler 2018).

 

Although research over the past 50 years has demonstrated that addiction is a brain disease, there has been a critical void in developing methods of treating addiction. Researchers do not know exactly what causes an individual to become addicted to a drug. However, they have identified changes that occur in the brain as a result of drug abuse.

HOW DOES ADDICTION WORK IN THE BRAIN?

In addiction, the brain’s reward processing circuits become imbalanced. The brain receives an abundant supply of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter involved in experiencing pleasure. The brain “learns” to seek out the “high” previously experienced with the excess dopamine. “Elevated brain activity in response to drug cues — referred to as cue reactivity — occurs with many types of drugs, including nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Cue reactivity also predicts relapse in addiction, so treatment approaches targeting the neural circuitry related to cue reactivity may directly impact cue-induced relapse in patients” (Elsevier 2018). In the past, researchers have been unable to provide a treatment aimed at the neural circuitry involved.

HOW DOES ADDICTION WORK IN THE BRAIN?

In addiction, the brain’s reward processing circuits become imbalanced. The brain receives an abundant supply of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter involved in experiencing pleasure. The brain “learns” to seek out the “high” previously experienced with the excess dopamine. “Elevated brain activity in response to drug cues — referred to as cue reactivity — occurs with many types of drugs, including nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Cue reactivity also predicts relapse in addiction, so treatment approaches targeting the neural circuitry related to cue reactivity may directly impact cue-induced relapse in patients” (Elsevier 2018). In the past, researchers have been unable to provide a treatment aimed at the neural circuitry involved.

BENEFITS OF TMS FOR ADDICTION

ONGOING RESEARCH

New research utilizing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is yielding positive results. To date, several studies have been conducted for the treatment of addiction disorders such as nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, heroin, and methamphetamine. In a study published earlier this year, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina demonstrated (specifically, continuous theta burst stimulation) significantly reduced the brain’s reactivity to drug cues in chronic alcohol users as well as chronic cocaine users (Kearney-Ramos 2018). Addicts viewed a drug cue, such as a liquor bottle, and their reaction to the cue was represented using the image provided by fMRI. Brain imaging and cues were done prior to TMS and after. Both the alcohol users and the cocaine users showed significantly reduced drug reactivity following the TMS session. Dr. Cameron Carter, editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, which published the study, said, “Since cue reactivity has previously been associated with abstinence, these studies suggest a common mechanism for treatment effects across disorders, with fMRI serving as a promising neural readout of treatment effects.”

TMS IS NON-INVASIVE

TMS is noninvasive technique using magnetic fields to stimulate neural activity in the brain. It gained FDA indication for the treatment of major depressive disorder in 2008. Since then, science has continued to explore the countless ways TMS will benefit the mental health community. In August 2018, the FDA added an indication of TMS for the treatment of OCD. The most common TMS side effect reported is a headache, which is treatable with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

ADDICTION IS WIDESPREAD

It’s difficult to understand the severity of the addiction problem in America. The burden that alcohol and drug abuse place on millions of addicts, their families, and their friends is tremendous. Many addicts’ parents experience “chronic sorrow,” a medical term generally applied to loved ones of those suffering from chronic health conditions. Watching a son or daughter fight addiction, withdraw, overdose, and relapse is torment. Though further research is needed, the hope that TMS offers this public health emergency is much needed.

SOURCES

Bahler, K. (2018, November 12). Opioid addiction: how parents are cutting off their kids | Money. Retrieved November 15, 2018 

 

Bolloni, C., et al. (2018). Transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of cocaine addiction: evidence to date. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 9, 11-21. doi:10.2147/SAR.S161206

 

Elsevier. (2018, May 15). Magnetic stimulation dampens brain response to drug cues in addiction. Science Daily. Retrieved November 19, 2018

 

Kearney-Ramos, T. et al. (2018) Transdiagnostic effects of ventromedial prefrontal cortex transcranial magnetic stimulation on cue reactivity. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 3, 7  599-609, ISSN 2451-9022.  Retrieved November 19, 2018 from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.03.016.

 

Sandoiu, A. (2018, May 18). Drug addiction: is brain stimulation the answer? Medical News Today. Retrieved November 19, 2018 

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