Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Drug Addiction

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;23(5):454-66. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2011.618827.


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that is now being tested for its ability to treat addiction. This review discusses current research approaches and results of studies which measured the therapeutic use of rTMS to treat tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug addiction. The research in this area is limited and therefore all studies evaluating the therapeutic use of rTMS in tobacco, alcohol or illicit drug addiction were retained including case studies through NCBI PubMed ( ) and manual searches. A total of eight studies were identified that examined the ability of rTMS to treat tobacco, alcohol and cocaine addiction. The results of this review indicate that rTMS is effective in reducing the level of cravings for smoking, alcohol, and cocaine when applied at high frequencies to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Furthermore, these studies suggest that repeated sessions of high frequency rTMS over the DLPFC may be most effective in reducing the level of smoking and alcohol consumption. Although work in this area is limited, this review indicates that rTMS is a promising modality for treating drug addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / radiation effects
  • Tobacco Use Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome