TMS is short for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It is a procedure that uses magnetic pulses to treat some mental disorders. So, is there a place for TMS in smoking cessation?
Tobacco smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in many countries. Tobacco is a plant originally native to the Americas. It is, however, now grown all over the world.
Its leaves contain nicotine, an addictive chemical. In addition, tobacco contains many cancer-causing agents. The leaves can be smoked in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Dipping and chewing tobacco are applied to the gums. Some people also inhale this substance as snuff. Thus there are quite a few ways of consuming this addictive drug.
There is also the danger of secondhand tobacco smoke to others. Exposure to this substance causes many types of cancers, as well as other diseases. Because of the multiple adverse effects of tobacco, curbing its use remains paramount.
On a good note, the percent of active smokers in the U.S. has decreased since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, though, 20-25% of adults still smoke.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based treatment approach that involves the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. MAT is helpful for smoking cessation.
Despite the benefits of MAT, it, however, does not work for everyone. So, what are the alternatives? Looking online reveals a plethora of proven and unproven methods to quit smoking. Because of the severity of this addiction, there are ongoing researches for other treatment options.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is one of those research options. There is currently quite a buzz on TMS and smoking cessation. Still, information on this topic remains limited.
TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses recurring magnetic pulses to stimulate specific regions of the brain. Its primary use is to treat depression. TMS also has approval for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
This procedure is not experimental. It was approved in the U.S. by the FDA for depression treatment in 2008. The treatment is on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office or clinic.
The treatment involves using a TMS machine to generate magnetic pulses that stimulate the brain cells. Because TMS involves using repetitive magnetic pulses, it is called repetitive TMS or rTMS.
Unlike ECT, transcranial magnetic stimulation does not require anesthesia. Another considerable advantage is the tolerability of TMS. In addition, it has minimal side effects compared to medications and ECT.
This procedure primarily treats depression and OCD. So, where does TMS come in for smoking cessation?
It is essential to have other options to quit smoking. Studies show that many smokers would like to stop. However, less than 10% are successful. This is due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine. Even though using other treatment approaches can double the quit rate, this is still rather low. Overall, the success rate for smoking cessation is not impressive. Also, the possibility of relapse remains high.
So, can TMS help with smoking cessation? Studies show that TMS has potential as a treatment for smoking cessation.
There are several ongoing studies on TMS and smoking cessation. One such research involving 115 smokers was done over three weeks. The participants received 13 sessions of TMS to help with smoking cessation. This study showed that some heavy smokers quit for as long as six months.
Yet another study showed some promising results. In this study, ten days of high-frequency rTMS over the left side of the brain decreased cigarette consumption. This positive response was, however, lost after treatment.
So, is there a specific type of TMS that helps the most with smoking cessation? Let us discuss this further by talking about Brainsway TMS for smoking cessation.
TMS involves using repetitive magnetic pulses. Because of this, it is described as repetitive TMS or rTMS. There are, however, different types of TMS machines. Most of them utilize rTMS.
BrainsWay’s TMS therapy is one of several available machines for this procedure. So, what makes this product different?
The manufacturers of BrainsWay state that their machine uses Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. What does this mean, though?
It infers that the magnetic pulses can go deeper into the brain. Thus, BrainsWay’s TMS can stimulate specific regions of the brain that contribute to addictive behaviors. The insula is one of such areas.
According to BrainsWay Deep TMS, stimulating deeper parts of the brain, including the insula, brings significant improvement to people. The result of the study suggests that high-frequency Deep TMS, in combination with a smoking cue, is an effective and durable treatment for smoking addiction.
Note, however, that BrainsWay TMS does not have approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
BrainsWay’s treatment is approved by the CE* for treating smoking addiction. Brainsway is at different stages of approval for various indications in different countries. They advise contacting [email protected] to verify if BrainsWay is approved in your area for smoking cessation.
TMS does not have the approval to treat addiction to drugs or alcohol. At least, not in the United States. It is possible things will be different in the next few years. Of course, this will depend on the results of the numerous ongoing studies.
Does this mean there is no place for TMS in addiction treatment?
No. Indeed, TMS has a place in treating dependence on drugs and alcohol. Many people who struggle with illicit substances also have an underlying mental illness. Co-occurring disorders make treatment much harder.
Thus, treating mental illness in this population is vital. This is where TMS has a role. Depression, anxiety, and OCD are common mental disorders that improve with this therapy.
In addition, the use of repetitive TMS has shown positive signs in helping with drug cravings. A study showed that 11 out of 16 people who received rTMS therapy for cocaine addiction were free of their addiction symptoms after one month of TMS.
There are several other such promising studies. These results are, however, by no means conclusive. Even following possible approval, it is likely TMS will serve as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Before FDA approval, we will remain cautiously optimistic.
Yes, it does. These are minimal, however. When side effects do occur, they tend to be mild to moderate. Also, they usually go away quickly and decrease over multiple sessions. The common side effects include:
An advantage of TMS machines is that the settings can be adjusted to help with these side effects. In cases of a headache, over-the-counter pain medications usually help.
It is rare to have any severe side effects with TMS. Some possible serious problems which may arise are:
While researchers continue to investigate other options, let us not forget what is currently available. There are different treatments. Medications, being one of them.
Medications used to treat nicotine dependence include:
Nicotine replacement is one of the most common treatments for tobacco addiction. They are readily available, including over the counter. Nicotine replacement therapies include the patch, lozenges, inhalers, spray, and gum.
Nicotine replacement therapy supplies reduced levels of nicotine such that the user can slowly wean off to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
The two prescription medications with FDA approval to help with tobacco addiction are bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix). Both drugs work by blocking cravings due to interactions with brain cells. This process thus alters certain chemicals in the brain.
Again, as with all addictions, a comprehensive approach to treatment is always best.
Tobacco smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the world. Willpower to quit smoking often fails to translate to abstinence. Even medications and other treatments have low success rates. Thus the importance of seeking out other management options.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a procedure that uses magnetic pulses to treat some mental disorders. The treatment involves using a TMS machine to generate magnetic pulses that stimulate the brain cells.
So, can TMS help with smoking cessation? Studies show that TMS has potential as a treatment for smoking cessation.
TMS involves using repetitive magnetic pulses. Because of this, it is described as repetitive TMS or rTMS. Some studies show the benefits of repetitive TMS for smoking cessation. These are still experimental, however.
There are different types of TMS machines. Repetitive TMS is used by most of them. On the other hand, BrainsWay utilizes Deep TMS. This technique infers that the magnetic pulses can go deeper into the brain. Thus, BrainsWay’s TMS can stimulate specific regions of the brain that contribute to addictive behaviors. The insula is one of such areas.
Note, however, that BrainsWay TMS does not yet have approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. BrainsWay’s treatment is approved by the CE* for treating smoking addiction. Perhaps, Brainsway TMS for smoking cessation will receive U.S. approval soon. For now, though, this approval is still pending.
TMS in smoking cessation becoming more mainstream will be a welcome development. Ultimately, the most success will come from combining several treatment approaches.
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