In an open sample, patients with cocaine use disorder underwent 2 weeks of intensive (15Hz) rTMS treatment for 5 days a week, followed by 2 weeks of maintenance treatment (1 day/week, twice a day). After 4 weeks, 9 out of 16 participants (56.25%) didn’t show any traces of cocaine on a urine test with significantly improved craving scores.
Moreover, researchers noted that the diminished cocaine cravings after rTMS were probably an indirect outcome of improved depressive symptoms.
Having said that, the study had some limitations, such as the small number of participants and the limited follow-up period.
Regardless of the study limitations, it is well-known that people with substance use disorders like cocaine are at high risk of developing depression and vice versa. In other words, the two conditions often go hand in hand. Multiple findings suggest that the presence of depressive symptoms can worsen addiction and the future increase in drug use. Moreover, patients who score higher on depressive scales are more likely to relapse back after treatment.
Hence, by improving depressive symptoms, rTMS may also help address addiction. Treating both SUD and mood disorders may optimize outcomes.