Can Virtual Reality Be a Tool to Fight Drug Addiction?

Source: Gizmodo

Virtual reality (VR) is being used for a number of things with gaming being the main focus. However, there’s a good chance VR could be used for other things outside of entertainment, and that might aid the technology to hold up well against the upcoming onslaught of augmented reality.

A few years in the past it was reported that VR therapy could potentially help folks who are suffering from alcoholism. The researchers felt confident about the importance of VR therapy, but we have no word at this time if the practice is still being used to treat patients.

Source: Digital Trends

The Idea is Not Dead

What we do know, however, is that the idea is still being floated around due to the Dean of the Tulane University’s School of Social Work beliefs. According to a story from the San Francisco Chronicles, Dean Patrick Bordnick is a strong believer in technology and how it can help those in need.

This is a man with over 10-years’ experience in the VR world where he investigates its uses in mental behavior cases. He looked at the possibility of behavioral therapists using VR to help addicts cope with any type of triggers that could force them to relapse, but instead in a controlled environment.

Interestingly enough, Bordnick isn’t stopping there as he’s also working on using virtual reality to help folks with autism better adapt to various social situations.

“Fifteen years ago, the avatars were not realistic. Everything has been motion captured using real actors so that the patient and therapist can work together in a realistic environment that mirrors real life outside of the clinical setting,” according to a statement from Bordnick.

He continued by saying; “Picture being able to practice what it’s like to venture into a party where you can walk into the crowd and interact. Or if you have a fear of public speaking, being able to stand in front of a virtual audience and practice your speech.”

Source: Outfresh

Project Delta Leads the Way

Now, the VR software being used in this situation is called Project Delta, and it takes patients to settings that can trigger a relapse. What we’re talking about here are places such as a virtual bar where patients can interact with other patrons, order drinks, and just have a good time.

Trained therapists are on-hand at all times to monitor the situation to find out how the user reacts to stressful situations that might force them to relapse. Not only that, these therapists would act as a guide to move patients through the area and help them deal with their urge to trigger another decline.

There’s a lot of potentials here for VR to become a major tool in helping addicts break free of the shackles still holding them down.