Groundbreaking New Addiction Treatment Modalities

It is estimated that over 89,000 Americans have died in the last 12 months as a result of a drug overdose. It is also estimated that a total of 95,000 Americans died last year due to alcohol-related causes. In total that means substance abuse was directly responsible for 184,000 deaths in this country last year. We are in the midst of what some are calling the worst drug crisis this country has ever seen, so much so that it has been dubbed the “opioid epidemic”. Professionals and researchers in the substance abuse treatment field are scrambling to find more treatment options for those who suffer with addiction or alcoholism. Recently two new-age treatments have shown major promise; Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation(TMS) and Deep Brain Stimulation(DBS).


TMS has shown promise for a range of addictions and addictive behaviors. TMS for opioid addiction, methamphetamine addiction, porn addiction, and cocaine addiction are all potential viable uses for the new modality.

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) for Addiction

According to the Mayo Clinic, a leading source for information regarding substance use disorder and other mental health disorders, Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. The treatment involves delivering repetitive magnetic pulses, so it’s called repetitive TMS or rTMS.

How TMS for Drug Addiction Works

During a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your head, typically in the forehead region. The electromagnet painlessly and quickly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in your brain. The region of your brain that is targeted is thought to be associated with mood regulation. This has been shown to be effective in craving reduction. Scientists are unable to determine the exact reason behind the craving reduction at this time. Research on TMS for opiate addiction, TMS for cocaine addiction, and TMS for methamphetamine addiction are ongoing. Currently, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is not FDA approved for drug addiction but it may be an option for some, and if research warrants it, it may become FDA approved in the future.

DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) for Addiction

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a procedure during which electrodes are implanted in specific areas of the brain. These electrodes, or leads, generate electrical impulses that control and or modify abnormal brain activity. The electrical impulses can also adjust for the chemical imbalances within the brain that cause various conditions. Stimulation of brain areas is controlled by a programmable generator that is placed under the skin in the upper chest.

How DBS for Addiction Works

Although not currently FDA approved to treat addiction, in the last 15 years there have been multiple animal DBS studies for addiction to different substances, with the majority reporting decreases in drug-seeking behavior with stimulation. The most common target for stimulation during DBS has been the nucleus accumbens, a key component in the mesolimbic reward pathway. In an addicted brain, the mesolimbic reward pathway changes quite a bit. Most importantly there is a relative hyperfunctioning of the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to lead to the diminished impulse control that is characteristic of drug addiction. (source:


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We at Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center make it our business to keep our thumb on the pulse of behavioral health industry advancements. We are monitoring the research on these treatments closely.

As always, if you are someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, we can help! Please call us at 855-698-3554 or directly at 201-663-2914 for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your treatment options. If you prefer to communicate via email please click here.