“We may not always be able to control what we are, but we can control what we do.” – Akiroq Brost
When many of us first come into treatment or 12-Steps fellowships, we’re informed rather quickly that it’s wise to “avoid the people, places and things” that remind us of our former using lifestyle. This is because people with substance addiction are generally more reactive to cues associated with drug use.
According to recent research studies involving people with either alcohol use disorder or cocaine use disorder, this ‘drug cue reactivity’* can be significantly reduced by use of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). (*: Drug cue reactivity refers to a person’s physiological and subjective reactions—e.g., cravings—when exposed to drug-related stimuli—e.g., seeing a liquor bottle or drug paraphernalia.)
TMS, a noninvasive brain stimulation technique, targets the brain’s circuitry most responsible for drug-taking behaviors (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex). According to the study’s authors, applying magnetic stimulation to this area calms brain activity in response to drug cues in chronic alcohol or cocaine users.
Using brain imaging both before and after TMS, the study indicates that a single session significantly reduced cue reactivity in both alcohol users and cocaine users.
“Since cue reactivity has previously been associated with abstinence, these studies suggest a common mechanism for treatment effects across disorders, with fMRI (precise measures of brain activity) serving as a promising neural readout of treatment effects,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
This new neural circuit-based treatment for substance dependence (i.e., TMS) adds a leading-edge neuroscience component to the field of addiction recovery.
Ref.: “Magnetic stimulation dampens brain response to drug cues in addiction” – Science Daily (5/15/18) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180515105643.htm