TMS for Addiction

Unlocking the Power of TMS for Addiction Recovery

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Key Takeaways

TMS for addiction recovery:

  • Innovative Treatment: Utilizes magnetic fields to stimulate brain activity, offering new hope for addiction recovery.
  • Targeted Approach: Aims at specific brain circuits involved in addiction, reducing substance use and relapse rates.
  • Safe and Effective: Offers a non-invasive, drug-free option with minimal side effects, complementing traditional addiction treatments.

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Addiction recovery is a long and complicated journey that requires a personalized approach. While traditional therapies like counseling, medication, and support groups have been the go-to for treating addiction, new innovative treatments are emerging. 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is one such therapy that has shown promising results in addiction recovery. 

In this blog, we will dive deep into TMS therapy and unveil the science behind it. We will also explore TMS for addiction recovery and what side effects you should watch out for.

Understanding TMS Therapy

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy harnesses the power of magnetic fields to stimulate neural activity in the brain. This non-invasive and FDA-approved treatment has shown great promise in addressing mental health disorders, including addiction. 

TMS therapy has been found to effectively reduce substance use and relapse rates by targeting specific brain circuits involved in addiction and cravings. Research has demonstrated the positive effects of TMS therapy on various conditions such as drug addiction, alcohol use disorder, and nicotine dependence. Clinical trials have also explored its efficacy in treating cocaine use disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression symptoms, and Parkinson’s disease. 

Moreover, it offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional addiction treatments. 

The Science behind TMS Therapy

The unique process of TMS therapy involves the delivery of magnetic pulses to the prefrontal cortex. These magnetic fields stimulate neurons and modulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure. 

TMS can normalize neural activity and restore balance by targeting specific areas of the brain involved in addiction. Neuroimaging studies have shown changes in brain connectivity after TMS, indicating that it has the potential to reshape neural pathways and circuits. 

Repetitive TMS sessions can lead to long-lasting changes in brain circuits, providing a lasting effect on addiction recovery. 

The TMS Procedure Explained

Seeking addiction treatment can feel intimidating, which is why you may want to do your research beforehand. The TMS procedure involves placing a coil on the scalp, which delivers targeted magnetic pulses to specific brain regions. 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation sessions typically last 30-40 minutes, are administered daily, and do not require anesthesia. 

What to Expect During a TMS Session?

During a TMS session, you will be comfortably seated while a technician positions the coil on your scalp and adjusts the intensity. You may feel tapping or clicking sensations on your head during stimulation, but it shouldn’t feel painful or uncomfortable. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is generally well-tolerated, and you can resume normal activities immediately after the session.

Evaluating the Right Candidate for TMS

When considering TMS therapy for addiction recovery, evaluating if the individual is the right candidate for this treatment is essential. One key factor to consider is whether other treatments have been tried without success. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation should only be considered when traditional methods have not yielded the desired results.

A comprehensive assessment is necessary to determine if TMS is appropriate for the individual. This assessment considers various factors, such as the person’s medical history, the severity of their addiction, and any co-occurring conditions they may have.

Motivation to make positive changes is important in determining the suitability of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy. A person actively seeking to overcome their addiction and committed to making positive changes in their life may benefit the most from this treatment.

Side Effects of TMS Therapy

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy is known for its minimal and generally well-tolerated side effects. The most common side effects are mild headache and scalp discomfort, which are typically temporary and subside on their own. 

Serious side effects are extremely rare, with seizures being the most severe possibility. It’s also important to note that TMS does not cause memory loss or cognitive impairment. 

Overall, the side effects of TMS therapy are manageable and usually resolve independently. This makes TMS therapy for addiction a safe and effective option for recovery without significant risks or long-term complications.

Pros and Cons of TMS for Addiction

Unlike many other addiction treatments, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy offers a non-invasive and drug-free approach to addiction. It has fewer side effects, making it a safer option for many people. However, it’s important to note that TMS therapy does require multiple sessions before achieving optimal results.

Additionally, TMS may not be suitable for everyone with addiction, so a thorough evaluation is necessary. It is also an adjunctive treatment and should be combined with psychotherapy for the best outcomes. 

You should always discuss addiction treatments with your healthcare providers so that they can help you find the best option for your situation.


In conclusion, TMS therapy offers a promising approach to recovery by targeting specific areas of the brain associated with addictive behaviors, helping to reduce cravings and promote long-term sobriety. Its non-invasive nature and minimal side effects provide a safe and effective option for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. However, before deciding whether TMS therapy is the right fit for you or a loved one, it is important to consider the potential pros and cons, cost factors, and insurance coverage.

Making an informed decision about TMS therapy for addiction can significantly increase the chances of successful addiction recovery. If this is a treatment you’re interested in, you can learn more about it at Memor Health.

Picture of Yvette Kaunismaki

Yvette Kaunismaki

Yvette Kaunismaki, MD, specializes in psychiatry with a holistic approach, focusing on integrating therapy and medication for women’s issues, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. She emphasizes a team-based method, aiming for balanced mental health through collaborative care with experienced therapists.

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