A Systematic Review of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation for Opioid Use Disorder


Neuromodulation. 23(3):301-311, 2020 Apr.

Ward HB; Mosquera MJ; Suzuki J; Mariano TY.

There is a great public health need to identify novel treatment strategies for opioid use disorder (OUD) in order to reduce relapse and overdose. Noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) has demonstrated preliminary effectiveness for substance use, but little is known about its use in OUD. Neuromodulation may represent a potential adjunctive treatment modality for OUD, so we conducted a systematic review to understand the state of the current research in this field.

We conducted a systematic review of studies using noninvasive brain stimulation to affect clinical outcomes related to substance use for adults with opioid use disorder. We searched the following online databases: PubMed, The Cochrane Library, PsycINFO (EBSCOhost, 1872-present), and Science Citation Index Expanded (ISI Web of Science, 1945-present). All studies that measured clinical outcomes related to substance use, including cue-induced craving, were included. We assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane Handbook.

The initial search yielded 5590 studies after duplicates were removed. After screening titles and abstracts, 14 full-text studies were assessed for eligibility. Five studies were determined to meet inclusion criteria with a combined total subjects of N = 150. Given the paucity of studies and small number of total subjects, no quantitative analysis was performed. These studies used TMS (n = 3), tDCS (n = 1), and the BRIDGE device (n = 1), a noninvasive percutaneous electrical nerve field stimulator, to reduce cue-induced craving (n = 3), reduce clinical withdrawal symptoms (n = 1), or measure substance-use-related cortical plasticity (n = 1).

There is a dearth of research in the area of noninvasive brain stimulation for OUD. NIBS represents a novel treatment modality that should be further investigated for OUD.