Will Magnetic Pulses Effectively Zap Cocaine Addiction?

Written by Robert Castan | Edited By Editorial Team

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Zap Your Cocaine Addiction With Theta Waves

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is proving to be quite effective at reducing or eliminating cocaine addiction; it’s yielding better results than traditional treatment regimens. TMS stimulates the analogous area of the brain, which is located directly behind the forehead in the prefrontal cortex; this eliminates the urge to locate the next cocaine fix. TMS has been successfully used in the past as a treatment for depression but until recently hasn’t been used for cocaine addiction.

TMS Methodology

When electrical stimulation of a coil held near the forehead causes it to emit pulsing theta bursts, it creates electrical currents in the area behind the forehead, known as the prefrontal cortex. These currents inhibit the neurons that are active in cocaine addicts. Inhibiting the activity of these neurons reduces or eliminates the craving for cocaine experienced by those who are addicted to it.

Another area of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, is also used to control the urge to seek a fix. Stimulating this area with bursts of theta waves appears to strengthen the circuits that override the urge to seek a fix.

Statistics on Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Worldwide, illegal cocaine is the second most trafficked drug and the numbers continue to increase. More than 8.6 million Americans over the age of 11 admit to having used crack cocaine and it remains the most frequently reported drug in hospital emergency rooms.

Current statistics indicate that there are more than 1 million people in the U.S. who are addicted to cocaine. Worldwide, the numbers are more than 13 million. Many users take cocaine in order to eliminate stress, achieve a euphoric feeling, and feel more energetic. These are all the most known effects of the drug. However, as soon as the high is over, the user plummets into depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which necessitates another fix.

Many users begin their relationship with cocaine with the erroneous perception that they can quit whenever they feel like it which is incorrect. Cocaine is one of the most highly addictive substances known and it’s possible to become addicted to it after the first use, particularly if the first use is crack cocaine. Tolerance builds quickly, so the need to use more of the substance escalates rapidly.

Addictive Properties of Cocaine

Of the illegal drugs available, cocaine creates the most psychological dependence with the exception of methamphetamines. Cocaine’s euphoric and pleasurable sensation creates a most gratifying high and those who use it are usually unable to envision their lives without it.

Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

As with all other illegal drugs, dabbling with cocaine exacts a high toll on the human body, particularly after the high has dissipated. Many users become paranoid and anxious when they’re not high and some resort to erratic and/or violent behaviors. Their heart rate increases dramatically as does their blood pressure, which can ultimately trigger a heart attack. Although a cocaine user can occasionally experience a stroke, it’s usually attributable to other health issues rather than the use of cocaine.

TMS Studies

Neuroscientists Billy Chen and Antonello Bonci at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland researched the effects of TMS on rats that were addicted to cocaine. When the rodents were light-stimulated in the areas of their brains that regulated impulse control, they ceased their search for cocaine.

Subsequent to 2013, Dr. Luigi Gallimberti, head of an addiction clinic in Italy, conducted a private study of patients who were addicted to cocaine. His private research had promising results and Dr. Gallimberti now offers the treatment in his addiction clinic. He has successfully treated more than 300 people addicted to cocaine.

In January, 2016 Antonello Bonci and Luigi Gallimberti entered into a partnership to open a clinic for cocaine addicts in Milan, Italy. Cocaine is the only drug lacking an FDA-approved treatment protocol and the relapse rate is about 80 percent.

In 2016, neurobiologists at the Medical University of South Carolina began a random, double-blind trial using TMS for cocaine addiction.

In May, 2017 the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City began another random, double-blind study to verify the effects that have already been indicated.

The Result of TMS Studies on the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

All current data and research indicates that TMS shows considerable promise in eliminating the addiction to cocaine. It also is helpful in treating depression, which can be a precursor to addiction or can also be evident alongside addiction. When this happens, it is known as co-occurring disorders.

If you carry the burden of addiction, help is available to you. While transcranial magnetic stimulation is promising in the treatment of cocaine addiction, the best way to end your addiction is to reach out to someone for help.


  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/specialty_areas/brain_stimulation/tms/
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers
  • National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
  • Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/cocaine-4157310
  • Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/dorsolateral-prefrontal-cortex
  • Foundation for a Drug-Free World: https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crackcocaine.html
  • American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
  • National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
  • Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/drug-tolerance
  • WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/cocaine-use-and-its-effects#1

  • Author: Robert Castan

    Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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