How virtual reality may help to treat fear, paranoid thoughts

A new study has discovered that adding virtual reality cognitive behavioral therapy to the standard treatment for psychotic disorders is safe and can reduce paranoia and anxiety.’

In a paper published in The Lancet Psychiatry, the researchers state that to their knowledge, theirs is the first randomized controlled trial of virtual reality (VR)-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that has attempted to improve social functioning and decrease paranoid thoughts in people with psychotic disorders.

“The addition,” explains lead author Roos M. C. A. Pot-Kolder, from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, “of virtual reality CBT to standard treatment reduced paranoid feelings, anxiety, and use of safety behaviors in social situations, compared with standard treatment alone.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Form of Virtual Reality May be Useful in Treating Alcohol Dependence

A small study suggests using a form of virtual reality therapy may be useful in treating alcohol dependence. The treatment puts patients in situations similar to real life, and requires them to actively participate, Reuters reports.

South Korean researchers studied 10 patients with alcohol dependence who went through a week-long detox program. They then participated in virtual reality sessions using a 3D television screen, twice a week for five weeks.

Each session included three virtual reality scenarios. One scenario was designed to relax them, while the second was meant to trigger alcohol cravings in a situation where other people were drinking. The third scenario was designed to make drinking appear unpleasant, by placing participants in a room where people were getting sick from alcohol. They also drank a liquid that tasted like vomit during the simulation.

Full story of virtual reality treating alcohol dependence at drugfree.org

Researcher Uses Virtual Reality to Reduce Addiction Cravings

A Duke University researcher is studying whether virtual reality can be used to reduce cravings in people who are addicted. The goal is to help them develop coping strategies that they can use in the real world, Popular Science reports.

A person using virtual reality for addiction treatment is hooked up to a simulator, and enters a virtual environment with one of their triggers, such as a crack pipe or bottle of alcohol. Someone in the scene offers them their drug of choice. Researchers slowly add cues to the virtual environment, or change the situation, based on the patient’s history.

A voice tells the person to put down the joystick and look around the room without speaking, to allow their craving to dissipate. The voice asks them to rate their cravings periodically.

The research is spearheaded by Zach Rosenthal, who receives funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Department of Defense. He uses virtual reality to trigger a reaction, and then teaches patients to cope with it. The method is called cue reactivity, which has long been used for treating phobias.

Full story of virtual reality for addiction at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education