Addiction is a disease, and it can be a devastating one. When someone is unable to control their compulsion to seek and use mind-altering substances, they can get trapped in a cycle of binging, withdrawal, and anticipation that consumes their waking hours. For someone who abuses drugs, the effects of addiction can seep into every aspect of life, depriving them of sleep, affecting job performance, ruining relationships, and making it impossible to function without getting their ‘fix.” Long-term drug use, even legal drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine can pose a serious health risk due to cumulative effects over time. Drug abuse and addiction can also lead to or worsen other mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
While tied to a specific behavior, substance use disorder (SUD) is a very real mental illness which can’t always be resolved through willpower alone. With the advance of study over recent decades, we now know more than ever before about the physical effects that drug addiction has on the brain. Long-term drug use changes the function and connectivity of the brain, causing neural pathways to misfire and develop dysfunctional connectivity patterns which cause the cycle of drug use to be self-reinforcing, growing more ingrained over time. Using functional imaging guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we are able to repair these haywire circuits to restore normal brain function and help break the cycle of addiction.
Different drugs vary in addictiveness, and some come with a higher risk of chronic dependency than others. Using addictive drugs at an early age increases the likelihood of them causing long-term effects on the behavior and chemical balance of the brain. Many people who become addicts have also had other mental health issues which cause them to seek comfort in harmful substances. Finally, there is often a genetic component, meaning that you may be more vulnerable to addiction if you have a close family member who has struggled with substance abuse.
It can be difficult for someone who is addicted to drugs to recognize when their dependency has reached dangerous levels. Substance use disorder is marked by being unable to stop taking drugs or control your level of intake when you do use substances. Drug addiction causes people to continue using drugs even when they have harmful effects on their job, relationships, or other aspects of life. People in your life may express concerns about the effects or magnitude of your drug use. You also may need to see a doctor for substance use disorder if you experience withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs.
All candidates for guided TMS treatment at Neurotherapeutix are first evaluated by a board-certified psychiatrist who will review your symptoms, including withdrawals, drug-seeking behaviors, and other relevant factors, as well as your goals for treatment. Using our unique functional image guided MRI (fMRI) technology, we are able to analyze the brain and examine the neural networks which are known to be related to the formation of drug habits. This allows us to evaluate the severity of the chemical dependency and craft an individualized treatment plan to treat drug addiction.
Specific treatments will vary depending on the type and severity of the chemical dependency. Recovery from substance use disorder is an ongoing process which often requires a combination of interventions. For some addictions, medications or drug replacements may be used to ease withdrawal and help to wean the patient off harmful chemicals. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also help with identifying triggers in order to recognize and overcome substance cravings.
Whether you’re quitting smoking or trying to kick an illegal substance like heroin or cocaine, no one should have to go through recovery alone, and it can be massively important to receive support from family and friends throughout the process. Self-help strategies may be useful, and there are also support groups available to help offer vital support to people fighting drug addiction. A treatment plan from Neurotherapeutix will generally include a combination of these and other interventions as well as fMRI-guided TMS sessions.
Growing understanding of the way that addiction interacts with the neural networks of the brain has helped us to identify the abnormal deep brain activity which characterize drug dependency. Standard transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown results in the past treating nicotine addiction as well as other types of chemical dependency. The unique approach offered by Neurotherapeutix improves further on this method by using function imaging technology to map the brain and pinpoint the specific networks which are malfunctioning due to the effects of drug addiction.
After identifying the malfunctioning networks of the brain, we will craft a personalized treatment plan to use precisely targeted TMS which will repair misfiring neural pathways and restore normal brain function and connectivity over the course of multiple sessions. Scientific research and our own track record as a practice backs the effectiveness of this method, showing measurable improvement of neuroplasticity and brain function which reduces addictive compulsion over time.
Patients who have undergone guided TMS have experienced an improved ability to resist cravings for cigarettes, drink less alcohol, and overcome dependency on other chemicals after repeated sessions. We are also able to monitor concrete progress through follow-up brain scans after treatment has been completed. This method is precise, non-invasive, and harmless, with no side effects. Neurotherapeutix is the only practice in New York City which offers functional imaging guided TMS.