Doctors from Nanjing University have begun a trial that tests the effects of non-invasive high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation on patients already undergoing drug rehabilitation. It is hoped the therapy will assist in relieving pain associated with drug withdrawal and go on to help with the addiction itself.
With 2.5 million addicts on record and an estimated total of 10-13 million methamphetamine/heroin abusers in the country, it comes as no surprise that China is beginning to sink money into new research that will help curb the problem.
“Few drugs can treat or even alleviate addiction. In recent years, non-invasive brain stimulation has been used to modulate craving responses in different types of drug addicts (heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine), and to prevent smoking or alcohol abuse”, say Y. Liang, L. Wang and T. Yuan in T”argeting Withdrawal Symptoms in Men Addicted to Methamphetamine With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation; A Randomized Clinical Trial”.
The practice is said to target certain areas of the brain cortex in order to ease pain during the rehabilitation process. However, it is unknown if brain stimulation can also help addicts dispell aversive symptoms in the early withdrawal period, the aforementioned article states.
“The intervention using repetitive magnetic stimulation lasted for 10 days. The recipients showed withdrawal symptoms of poor sleep quality, depression and anxiety”, Dr. Liang Ying from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Nanjing University, told reporters.
Dr. Liang’s team used the treatment on methamphetamine addicts from a period ranging from 2 to 15 days. The therapy is said to help relieve patients of the side-effects suffered during detoxification that are insomnia and depression.
Combined professionals from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, the Co-innovation Center of Neuroregeneration, Nantong University, the Guangdong-Hongkong-Macau Institute of CNS Regeneration, Ministry of Education CNS Regeneration Collaborative Joint Laboratory, Jinan University and the School of Psychology, plus Nanjing Normal University hope to collaborate with international scientists to improve the quality of their research and to further explore relapse prevention.