TMS or transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is an FDA approved, innovative way of treating psychological disorders. A growing body of empirical research indicates it to be a safe, effective treatment. It has been used as a treatment option for a wide range of disorders, including depression, PTSD, and addiction. Studies investigating TMS therapy and addiction reveal that TMS may play a role by modulating dopamine production, a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in addiction.
TMS therapy has been used to treat alcohol addiction, and experimental evidence shows a significant reduction in cravings and incidences of heavy drinking following TMS therapy.
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is an FDA approved, non-invasive brain stimulation treatment that uses magnetic fields to modulate brain activity. The therapy is approved for the treatment of depression and has shown some efficacy in the treatment of addiction. Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy works by delivering pulses of magnetic energy to the skull, which produces electrical currents that stimulate neurons in the brain.
The therapy is thought to work by modulating the activity of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which are involved in the reward pathway. In animal studies, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy has been shown to reduce cocaine and alcohol intake.
In TMS, when a magnetic field created by a coil is applied to the head, the magnetic field permeates the brain and affects the neurons. When the magnetic field is strong enough or changes quickly enough, it depolarizes neurons and causes them to release neurotransmitters that govern brain activities.
The therapy has also been shown to reduce cue-induced cravings in humans. While the exact mechanism by which transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy works is not fully understood, it appears to be an effective treatment for addiction.
The History of TMS Therapy
The notion of applying magnetic fields to stimulate the human brain and other sections of the body in an attempt to heal ailments dates back more than a century, although the efficacy was not always supported by scientific investigations. Anthony Barker and colleagues created the first modern Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) device in 1985.
Michael Faraday discovered the science underpinning this approach in 1881 when he was able to generate a magnetic field by passing electricity through a coil. The shifting or alternating magnetic field can also impact nearby conductors, such as another metal coil conductor or brain neurons.
Today, TMS is becoming increasingly available in clinics around the world and is used to treat a wide range of conditions.
There is a clear demand for new alcohol treatment options. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 25.8% of people in the United States binge drink in any given month, and almost 15 million Americans aged 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder.
Unfortunately, figures reveal that just 7.3% of individuals with an alcohol problem receive care. Considering the fact that alcohol causes 95,000 deaths each year and accounts for 18.5 percent of emergency department visits, this is a vicious societal problem.
While there are beneficial therapies for alcohol use disorder, treatment is not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. While a certain method might be beneficial for one individual, it might do nothing to help the next. This is why having a range of effective therapies available is necessary.
Symptoms of Alcohol Dependency
The severity of an alcohol use problem is determined by the number of symptoms you encounter. Among the signs and symptoms are:
- Being unable to restrict your alcohol consumption
- Wanting to reduce your drinking but not being able to
- Spending a lot of time drinking, obtaining alcohol, or recuperating from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong desire to consume alcohol regularly
- Failure to meet key duties at work, school, or home because of excessive alcohol use
- Continuing to use alcohol despite negative consequences
- Giving up or decreasing social, work, and recreational activities to consume alcohol
If you think that you or someone close to you is suffering from alcohol use disorder, it might be time to seek help. Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug, but it shouldn’t be overlooked when it starts to ruin your life. TMS therapy for alcohol addiction could be a viable options for you if other routes of treatment have not worked.
Alcohol addiction is a highly stigmatized condition, but this should never be a reason to not seek help. Addiction is rarely a choice and it has physiological roots and driving factors. Despite common belief, it’s not easy for people to just “stop drinking”. Never feel ashamed for seeking the help you need.
TMS Therapy for Alcoholism
TMS has long been recognized as a useful treatment for mental health issues such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, until recently, little study had been conducted to investigate its impact on addiction. Since alcohol addiction has remained a hazard to public health, experts have become interested in researching TMS to treat alcohol use disorder.
A recent study in the journal Biological Psychiatry investigated the effects of deep, repeated TMS (rTMS) on a group of individuals in treatment for moderate to severe alcohol addiction. The findings revealed that TMS therapy decreased alcohol cravings and excessive drinking.
A Promising New Treatment for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a pervasive societal problem. While often socially acceptable, excessive alcohol use can tear a person’s life apart. It can lead to impaired ability to lead a normal social, professional, and family life. TMS is a therapy that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the cortex to either enhance or inhibit certain functions. Alcoholism is just one of the many conditions that can be treated with TMS therapy. It has been shown to effectively reduce cravings and incidences of excessive drinking. To find out more about how TMS can help you recover, contact us today.