Transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of cocaine addiction: evidence to date

Journal: Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation 9:11-21 (2018)

Authors: C Bolloni, P Badas, G Corona, M Diana


There is a common consensus in considering substance-use disorders (SUDs) a devastating chronic illness with social and psychological impact. Despite significant progress in understanding the neurobiology of SUDs, therapeutic advances have proceeded at a slower pace, in particular for cocaine-use disorder (CUD). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is gaining support as a safe and cost-effective tool in the treatment of SUDs.


In this review, the authors consider human studies that have investigated the efficacy of TMS in achieving therapeutic benefits in treating CUD.


All studies conducted to date that have evaluated the therapeutic effect of TMS in CUD are included. The authorsfocus on the protocol of stimulation applied, emphasizing the neurophysiological effects of coils employed related to outcomes. Moreover, they examine the subjective and objective measurements used to assess the therapeutic effects along the timeline considered.


The revision of scientific literatures underscores the therapeutic potential of TMS in treating CUD. However, the variability in stimulation protocols applied and the lack of methodological control do not allow the authors to draw firm conclusions, and further studies are warranted to examine the interaction between TMS patterns of stimulation relative to clinical outcomes in depth.


Overall, rTMS appears ready to be scrutinized with scientific rigor in CUD, a condition presently bereft of specific pharmacological and efficacious treatment.

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