Many individuals worldwide suffer from some form of drug addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). Due to the cyclical nature of withdrawal and relapses, eg. alcohol use disorder (AUD), the difficulty rooted in managing such brain diseases can dishearten those who most want to cease drug misuse and lead healthier lives. Virtual reality methods can also have a large impact on those seeking treatment and play a significant role in countering their feelings of defeatism and self-doubt. By rejecting their addiction repeatedly in a virtual scenario, individuals foster the confidence to do so in the real world and maintain that belief in their own abilities across other treatment options.
Benefits of using VR for Addiction Treatment
Scholars at the Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work are pioneers of using VR technology for treatment purposes. The researchers have achieved success using virtual reality therapy to help smokers refuse the temptation of cigarettes.
The benefits of virtual reality can apply no matter what stage of the process they are in.
To help during the process of detoxifying from drug addiction , virtual reality techniques can be used to distract the individual from the discomfort of withdrawal and detox. While immersed in this alternate reality, many find it easier to cope with their symptoms and stay committed to their sobriety.
2. Fighting Cravings
VR is an active experience, with the user diving completely into a different reality. Specific sounds, smells, situations, and visual stimuli play a vital role in their desire to use drugs, and by engaging regularly with these specific triggers, addicts can practice overcoming them through repeat exposure.
3. Learning to say No.
With virtual reality, clients can practice these scenarios over and over again without having to worry about what happens if they cannot say no. Recovery is a daily commitment, but it can be easier to do if you know you have succeeded in the past. By saying successfully no to addiction in a virtual setting, addicts can feel more confident saying no once they leave treatment.
4. Personalized Therapy
As much as VR can help addicts fight off outside triggers, it can also help therapists identify the internal contributions fostering an addiction. Self-doubt, childhood trauma, a family history of addiction, and countless other factors could be building a roadblock to recovery. By exploring these scenarios customized therapies can be designed to determine the root cause of addiction.
Soothing scenes, when combined with relaxing music, can help reduce agitation, stress, paranoia, and anger and provide a quiet place for self-reflection. This technology can also provide an escape if cravings become overwhelming.