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Magnetic simulation might be the answer to cocaine addiction

For some people, an addiction to illicit substances can become an unwanted but necessary way of life. Certain people, despite seeking treatment for recovery, are unable to find the appropriate treatment plan and as a consequence fail to respond to medications. This leaves a large section of the population yearning for better medical facilities or new treatment methods to help ease their symptoms. Researchers are constantly trying to find ways to put an end to addiction and associated challenges. In the same vein, finally, a promising remedy called, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, has come in the news which could prove fruitful in treating such people.

Approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), and recognized as an effective therapy for depression and other mental disorders by the John Hopkins Hospital, TMS can now be used for addiction treatment as well. A non-invasive outpatient procedure, it affects the brain’s limbic system that is known to regulate cravings, by creating a magnetic field that produces a small electric current in a specific part of the brain.

Pilot study tests TMS

The effectiveness of the therapy was tested in a pilot study, where repetitive TMS (rTMS) was shown to reduce cocaine consumption and compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Called the “first step toward opening a neurobiological treatment for cocaine addiction,” Antonello Bonci, co-author, called the treatment a breakthrough in treating cocaine addiction.

The study observed 32 participants addicted to cocaine for 29 days. They were randomly assigned to either the experimental group offering rTMS or to a control group offering traditional addiction therapy. Post their treatment, each of the participant was followed up for 63 days during which all of them received rTMS. Each rTMS session lasts for about 30 to 60 minutes and does not require either anesthesia or sedation.

Although the findings observed no adverse long-term side effects, there were significantly higher number of cocaine-free urine drug tests and significantly lower cocaine cravings in the experimental group. Additionally, individuals in the control group who were offered rTMS therapy in the follow up also reported favorable outcomes.

An effective and safe option

The stimulation procedure involves applying altering magnetic fields to the patient’s prefrontal cortex in the brain. During the therapy session, light-sensitive proteins are introduced into the brain, which are then activated with the help of light beams. The magnetic fields stimulate the cells in the brain restoring normal function in the affected areas.

Traditional treatment options for cocaine addiction have produced mixed results, therefore, TMS provides a new hope in addressing drug cravings. Though it is not known if rTMS works best as a single treatment or in combination with traditional treatments involving medication and/or psychotherapy, more research is required to determine its effectiveness.

Cocaine addiction destroys lives

Cocaine usage affected an estimated 1.9 million people (aged 12 years and above) in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2016. Associated with impairment of decision-making abilities and deficit in cognitive performance, cocaine abuse can lead to severe physical and psychological symptoms in individuals. A cocaine overdose can lead to respiratory failure, heart failure, seizure and stroke.

Once consumed, cocaine is known to stimulate the brain’s key pleasure centers and heighten the sense of euphoria among its users. Long-term usage of cocaine is known to alter a user’s brain chemistry and foster drug dependency and addiction. Classified as a Schedule II drug by the FDA, cocaine abuse can be fatal for its users.

Addiction can be treated

A chronic disease, addiction to drugs, including cocaine, affects women differently than men. According to a 2017 study, hormonal fluctuations in women make them particularly vulnerable to the addictive properties of cocaine. Often finding it harder to quit and recover, women face barriers in getting help, tend to progress faster in addiction, and experience more addiction-related mental health issues.

A leading women drug rehab in Arizona, Sovereign Health offers its patients individualized and comprehensive treatment for substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring disorders. Basis the duration and severity of a patient’s symptoms, treatment for cocaine addiction may include medically-supervised detoxification, individual and group therapy, or experiential therapies.

For more information on our evidence-based treatment programs or to locate the finest drug rehab facilities for women near you, call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our counselors for immediate assistance.

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