Can you use TMS to treat addiction?
The treatment of addiction using TMS is very very new. And there really isn’t enough data to know how much treatment is needed, or if an opiate addict, a cocaine addict, or an alcohol addict would get different treatments. We don’t know a lot about addiction. We know where to stimulate and how to stimulate but how many session that are needed is not known and the long-term follow-up at this point is not known.
The third thing you mentioned was the addictive personality and that’s another large controversy in and of itself. There are predispositions for addiction. Research done by Dr. Schuckit has shown that some people inherited genes for less sensitivity to alcohol, which does predict that they’re more likely to be an alcoholic if they drink. And other data has shown that novelty seeking and the reward deficit syndrome, where people get bored easily, they like new things and they like excitement, those people tend to try things more and get addicted faster.
In my opinion, once a person has the addiction, once those changes have occurred in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens of the basal ganglia, it doesn’t reverse. TMS doesn’t reverse that. It can reduce the importance of that network. It can reduce the cravings and the impulsivity but that’s there and no matter how it got there, in my opinion, it’s the same.