Unilateral transcranial photobiomodulation for opioid addiction in a clinical practice: A clinical overview and case series

J Psychiatr Res. 2021 Jan:133:134-141. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.12.004. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Introduction: Opioid Use Disorders (OUD) cause great disfunction and pain to individuals, families, and societies. There are few good treatments. This paper presents a novel, easily applied, painless, therapy that can be applied as an adjunct to psychotherapies and medications.

Methods: The author presents a retrospective overview and 4 brief case reports. Two are typical of very positively responsive patients, one is of a positively but not remarkably responsive patient, and one of a non-responsive patient. The author used unilateral transcranial photobiomodulation (UtPBM), near infrared mode, applied to the hemisphere with the more positive hemispheric emotional valence (HEV) as a treatment to augment the patients' usual treatment.

Results: The case reports are from 42 consecutive patients in his practice with OUD where he has given 382 treatments over 18 months, as needed. The author's subjective clinical observations were that of the 42 patients, 26 (62%) consistently had responses to the UtPBM (as described in the case reports) that were easily observable to the patient and the author as strikingly beneficial, 8 (19%) had helpful, but not remarkable responses, and 8 (19%) had no noticeable response. These 3 characterizations will be illustrated with clinical examples. There were no side-effects reported or observed aside from 2 women who experienced anxiety which resolved with psychotherapy.

Conclusions: Using UtPBM as an adjunctive treatment to the author's usual in-depth psychotherapy and medication management, he found subjectively that for the majority of his patients, this treatment was a valuable, safe benefit to their treatment for OUD.

Keywords: Depression; Drug addiction; Opioid dependence; Psychological trauma; Transcranial near infrared light; Transcranial photobiomodulation; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Pain
  • Psychotherapy
  • Retrospective Studies