Substance use disorders (SUDs) are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In spite of considerable advances in understanding the neural underpinnings of SUDs, therapeutic options remain limited. Recent studies have highlighted the potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as an innovative, safe and cost-effective treatment for some SUDs. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) influences neural activity in the short and long term by mechanisms involving neuroplasticity both locally, under the stimulating coil, and at the network level, throughout the brain. The long-term neurophysiological changes induced by rTMS have the potential to affect behaviours relating to drug craving, intake and relapse. Here, we review TMS mechanisms and evidence that rTMS is opening new avenues in addiction treatments.
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