Transcranial Neurostimulation (TCNS) for Addiction Treatment

This article explains what we need to know about transcranial neurostimulation for addiction and substance use treatment, chronic pain, and depression.

What is Transcranial Neurostimulation?

Neurostimulation refers to a therapeutic intervention performed with the purpose of treating chronic neurological or psychiatric disorders. This largely serves as a substitute for pharmacotherapy.
Transcranial neurostimulation is a reconstructive surgery of a person’s neural composition. It works by targeting key pain-processing parts of the brain. In practice, this procedure may take the form of a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), or as a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Both these procedures fall under the transcranial neurostimulation umbrella and can work for different people, depending on what they need.
Transcranial Neurostimulation


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What Is It Used For?

Transcranial neurostimulation is commonly used to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders highly resistant to pharmacotherapy. Such conditions include chronic pain, anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance use disorder. For those who pharmacotherapy does not work for, TCNS offers another opportunity for them to get the help they want or need in order to overcome their conditions.

Types of Transcranial Neurostimulation

There are three major types of transcranial neurostimulation which are:

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a psychiatric treatment that involves electronically inducing a generalized seizure to treat intractable mental problems. About seventy to one hundred and twenty volts are typically applied externally to the patient’s head, making for an approximate eight hundred milliamperes of direct current passing through the brain for a duration of one hundred milliseconds to six full seconds.

Such current flow may originate from temple to temple (bilateral ECT), or from the front to back of one side of the head (unilateral ECT).

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure that involves the implantation of a neurostimulator that sends electrical impulses to specific targets in the brain, the brain nucleus, via the implanted electrodes.

This treatment is particularly used when dealing with movement disorders like Parkinson’s Disease, kinetic tremors, dystonia, and other conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and epilepsy.

DBS alters brain activity in a regulated manner, although its basic principles and mechanisms are largely unknown.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is neuromodulation that uses electrodes to deliver a steady but low direct current. This mode was created to aid individuals suffering from brain injuries or neuropsychiatric disorders such as acute depressive disorder.

Transcranial direct current stimulation does not employ alternating currents in contrast to cranial electrotherapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

What is TMS Therapy?

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is a non-invasive magnetic brain stimulation that creates an electric current in a specific location of the brain through electromagnetic induction.
An electric pulse generator, sometimes known as a stimulator, connects a magnetic coil to the scalp. The stimulator creates a magnetic field by adjusting the electric current within the coil, which causes a recurrent inductance of inverted electric charge in the brain.

How TMS Therapy Works

An electromagnetic coil is placed near one’s forehead during an rTMS session. The electromagnet sends a painless magnetic pulse to nerve cells in the brain that controls mood and depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation aims to stimulate brain regions that are underactive in depression.

Though the biology of why rTMS works is not fully known, magnetic brain stimulation appears to change the way the brain works to reduce depressive symptoms further and to help enhance mood.

rTMS is a magnetic brain therapy that can be conducted in various ways. Moreover, new and innovative approaches continue to evolve as professionals discover more about the treatment.

When is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Used?

TMS is often used as a last resort if a patient fails to respond positively to medications or psychotherapy, or if they experience severe side effects from such treatments.

Young people are generally the most populous candidates for TMS treatment, as they are more likely to experience adverse effects from antidepressants.

Who Should Avoid TMS?

While TMS is largely a safe treatment, it is not suitable for everyone. You should avoid trans magnetic stimulation if you have metal plates or shrapnel in your head, permanent piercings, or metallic ink tattoos. All these implants, except dental fillings and braces, are at risk of heating up during electromagnetic therapy. You should also avoid TMS treatment if:

  • You are pregnant
  • You have a brain injury
  • You have frequent migraines
  • You are taking other stimulants
  • You are prone to seizures or have a history of epilepsy
  • You have other pre-existing mental health conditions

Potential Side Effects of TMS

You must know that even if the risks of TMS treatment are minimal, they are nonetheless existent. Furthermore, such risks naturally depend on the frequency levels of trans magnetic stimulation. Some immediate and prolonged transcranial magnetic stimulation side effects include:

  • Fainting
  • Scalp irritation
  • Headache
  • Loss of hearing
  • Temporary pain and aches
  • Temporary memory impairment
  • Seizures
  • Brief hypomania
Benefits of TMS Treatments

Benefits of TMS Treatments

There are many benefits of TMS treatment – read on to find out more.

Reduced Risk of Side Effects

With TMS treatment, patients often see a reduction in the risk of side effects they usually get from other medications. Although such symptoms may not be completely eliminated, they are significantly reduced for a majority of TMS users.

TMS Does Not Interfere with Driving

Many are concerned about having to drive immediately after undergoing TMS treatment. The truth is that TMS does not interfere with your ability to drive at any point in time, making it an easier process to undergo if you don’t have access to public transportation.

TMS is More Effective Than Other Treatments

TMS offers effective solutions to severe neurological and psychiatric disorders. In addition, of course, its various treatments, including magnetic depression therapy, offer a long-lasting solution to depression, unlike other medications.

TMS Can Eliminate the Need for Medication

One of the major benefits of TMS therapy is that a successful procedure can eliminate the need for medications and even psychotherapy for the future. For instance, a successful magnetic depression therapy session targeted at treating depression will no longer require a patient to take antidepressants.

Other Conditions TMS Helps With

There are other conditions TMS can help with beyond substance use disorder.

Chronic Pain

In chronic pain patients, rTMS improves the efficacy of conventional medical treatment. There are also no known transcranial magnetic stimulation side effects. rTMS has been proven to treat orofacial pain as well.


TMS is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of autism in ways that other therapies have failed to achieve. The following are some of the TMS benefits in the treatment of autism:

  • High rate of success in autism symptoms reduction.
  • Non-invasive – the treatment is carried out entirely outside of the body.
  • Non-sedative – no sedation is required, and the procedure is quite painless.
  • Minimal side effects – in most patients, there are little to no side effects.

Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD

TMS therapy for anxiety is a substitute for antidepressants, especially for patients who do not respond to anxiety medication or psychotherapy. In such cases, TMS is performed to stimulate nerve cells and is mostly successful.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved electromagnetic therapy for depression in the form of rTMS in 2008. Since then, magnetic depression therapy has proven to be a viable tool for curing depressive disorder.

In a 2018 report, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) revealed that magnetic brain stimulation recorded huge success in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Similarly, in 2018, the FDA approved rTMS as a treatment for OCD. It is recommended that a person with OCD be treated with TMS where medications or psychotherapy have proven unsuccessful. Magnetic brain therapy will inhibit the brain nerves that stimulate hyperactivity and influence extreme OCD symptoms.

Other Conditions TMS Helps With

At Concise Recovery, our team of experts is equipped to help guide you to improving your mental health and substance use disorder through using TMS as a treatment option. Concise Recovery will help you or your loved ones as you take the first steps towards a seamless recovery. 

Alongside mental health and substance use disorder, if you’re experiencing chronic pain or other issues that medications or pharmacotherapy didn’t help with, utilizing transcranial neurostimulation can also make a big difference in the steps to recovery and help. With its general lack of side effects and proven success rate for many people who undergo the treatment, TMS can be the option you or a loved one might have been looking for to jumpstart your own recovery.

If you are interested in learning more about our TMS treatment programs in Los Angeles, California, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with Concise Recovery today.