A Review of Brain Stimulation Methods to Treat SubstanceUse Disorders

Journal: The American Journal on Addictions(2018)

Authors: A.S Coles, K Kozak, T.P George


Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a leading causeofdisabilityworldwide. While several pharmacological and behavioraltreatments for SUDs are available, these may not be effective for allpatients. Recent studies using non-invasiveneuromodulationtechniques includingrepetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation(rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and deepbrain stimulation (DBS) have shown promise for SUD treatment.


Multiple studies were evaluated investigating the therapeutic potential of non-invasive brain stimulationtechniquesin treatment of SUDs.


Through literature searches (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar), 60 studies (2000–2017) were identified examining the effect of rTMS, tDCS, or DBS on cravings and consumption of SUDs, including tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, opioids, and stimulants.


rTMS and tDCS demonstrated decreases in drug craving andconsumption, while early studies with DBS suggest similar results.Results are most encouraging when stimulation is targeted to thedorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC).


Short-term treatment with rTMS and tDCS may have beneficial effects on drug craving and consumption. Future studies should focus on extending therapeutic benefits by increasing stimulation frequency and duration of treatment. The utility of these methods in SUD treatment and prevention are unclear, and warrants further studyusing randomized, controlled designs.

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