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Substance Use Disorder And rTMS

The London Psychiatry Centre / rTMS Clinic / Substance Use Disorder And rTMS

Substance Use Disorder And rTMS

Substance use disorder (SUD), or addiction, is a complex condition which leads to a person’s inability to control their use of a legal or illegal substance. It can be treated with Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).

An individual with SUD can form an addiction to any dependence-inducing substance, including stimulants such as cocaine (including crack and powder) and crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as meth), depressants such as gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and dissociative anaesthetics such as ketamine.

According to a Government report, individuals beginning treatment in 2021 to 2022 with a powder cocaine addiction increased by 11% (from 19,209 to 21,298). Meanwhile, the number of people in treatment for crystal methamphetamine addiction has gradually increased since reporting began in 2005.

Living with SUD can negatively impact your health, work, relationships and quality of life. Accepting that you have a problem with substance use, and admitting that you need help, are the first steps towards getting better. We can support you in your journey to recovery.

rTMS Treatment For SUD

There are a number of methods for treating SUD, including talking therapies; medicines to manage withdrawal symptoms; detoxification; and self-help and support groups.

At The London Psychiatry Centre, we offer a treatment for substance use disorder called rTMS, a non-invasive alternative to traditional treatment. rTMS has been successful where other treatments have not in managing cravings in combination with other therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The London Psychiatry Centre has introduced rTMS in the UK and has the best experience of how to use this innovative and non-invasive intervention to a variety of conditions.

rTMS involves the use of magnetic stimulation to alter activity in a specific area of the brain. It works by passing short pulses of a magnetic current through a coil of wire encased in plastic and placed next to a patient’s scalp. The patient does not feel pain during this treatment.

This treatment is particularly effective in the management of cravings for stimulant substances, and potentially GHB and ketamine once the patient has undergone a detox.

+ - What is substance use disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental health condition also known as addiction. It exists on a spectrum; some people may have a very mild addiction to substances, whereas others may be completely dependent to the point where it greatly impacts their life and relationships. Where a person is on the addiction spectrum depends on genetic, environmental and developmental factors, as well as the choice of substance.

Some people develop SUD from taking drugs that have been prescribed by their doctor (ketamine being one example), while others may begin using drugs recreationally and develop the disorder by increasing frequency of use over time.

Symptoms of SUD include:

  • Feeling the need to consume the substance regularly, which intensifies over time
  • Thinking about using the substance regularly, with these thoughts overcoming other thoughts and needs
  • Needing to use more and more of the substance as time progresses
  • Missing out on or being less present during social situations
  • Not meeting work obligations
  • Spending money on the substance, even if you are unable to afford it
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you do not take the substance
+ - What are the existing treatments for substance use disorder?

Besides rTMS, existing treatments for SUD include talking therapies, such as:

  • Motivational interviewing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Medicines for replacement of illicit opioids such as methadone or buprenorphine
  • Medicines to manage withdrawals (detoxification), which involves stopping use of the substance and taking medicines in a hospital setting or at home to manage the withdrawal symptoms
  • Self-help – tools may include peer support groups such as AA, smartphone apps, books about recovery, and other holistic interventions
+ - How does rTMS treat substance use disorder?

The London Psychiatry Centre is pioneering in the use of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) to successfully treat chronic, treatment-resistant depression. The response to treatment has been extremely positive, as it is effective, drug-free and non-invasive. Alongside depression treatment, rTMS has been shown to be effective in the treatment of other conditions, including fibromyalgia, tinnitus and substance use disorder.

During rTMS, you will be comfortably seated, and provided with head and neck support, as well as a cotton cap. Your clinician will place a wire coil encased in plastic, which will deliver short magnetic pulses to a concentrated area, against the cap. The treatment lasts 30 minutes. It is not painful or invasive, and does not require the use of sedation.

Patients see improvements with just a handful of sessions of rTMS, with cravings significantly reduced after completing a period of regular treatment.

+ - Common substances abused in substance use disorder
  • Stimulants – Such as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.
  • Depressants – gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB).
  • Dissociative anaesthetics – such as ketamine.

If you have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and would like to find out more about how rTMS can help, or book a consultation, please call The London Psychiatry Centre on 020 7580 4224 and a member of our team will be happy to answer your questions.

The London Psychiatry Centre subscribes to the ISCAS Code.

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