Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Virtual World Therapeautic For Addicts: Study Shows Impact Of Environment To Addiction Cravings

Date:
April 30, 2008
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
Patients in therapy to overcome addictions have a new arena to test their coping skills -- the virtual world. A new study found that a virtual reality environment can provide the climate necessary to spark an alcohol craving so that patients can practice how to say "no" in a realistic and safe setting.

Participant (left) wears the VR helmet and is guided by a monitor through the virtual environments.
Credit: Professor Patrick Bordnick

Patients in therapy to overcome addictions have a new arena to test their coping skills--the virtual world. A new study by University of Houston Associate Professor Patrick Bordnick found that a virtual reality (VR) environment can provide the climate necessary to spark an alcohol craving so that patients can practice how to say "no" in a realistic and safe setting.

"As a therapist, I can tell you to pretend my office is a bar, and I can ask you to close your eyes and imagine the environment, but you'll know that it's not real," Bordnick said. "In this virtual environment you are at a bar or at a party or in a real-life situation. What we found was that participants had real-life responses."

Bordnick, of the UH Graduate College of Social Work, investigates VR as a tool for assessing and treating addictions. He studied 40 alcohol-dependent people who were not receiving treatment (32 men and eight women). Wearing a VR helmet, each was guided through 18 minutes of virtual social environments that included drinking. The participant's drink of choice was included in each scene. Using a game pad, each rated his or her cravings and attention to the alcohol details in each room. Each then was interviewed following the experience.

"What we found was that the VR environments were real enough that their cravings were intensified. So, now we can develop coping skills, practice them in those very realistic environments until those skills are working tools for them to use in real life," Bordnick said.

His VR environments, developed with a company called Virtually Better, feature different scenarios that an addict may find challenging: a bar with imbibing patrons, a house party with guests drinking and smoking, a convenient store with cigarettes and alcoholic beverages within reach, a designated smoking section outside of a building or a room with an arguing couple. The environments use actors in each scene as opposed to computer-generated characters. In addition, the study added another layer of realism. A device sprayed the air with scents the participant may encounter in the various scenarios--cigarette smoke, alcoholic beverages, pizza or aromas associated with the outdoors.

"This study shows us the value of using virtual reality as a tool for assessing and treating addictions. Future studies should explore the importance of environmental settings and other cues on cravings and relapse," Bordnick said.

His study is available online in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Bordnick also has VR environments to help soldiers from Iraq, those with a fear of flying, fear of public speaking and fear of heights.

He is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Virtual World Therapeautic For Addicts: Study Shows Impact Of Environment To Addiction Cravings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428175336.htm>.
University of Houston. (2008, April 30). Virtual World Therapeautic For Addicts: Study Shows Impact Of Environment To Addiction Cravings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428175336.htm
University of Houston. "Virtual World Therapeautic For Addicts: Study Shows Impact Of Environment To Addiction Cravings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428175336.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Facebook Wants You To Download Its Messenger App

Why Facebook Wants You To Download Its Messenger App

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Facebook will start requiring users to download a separate Messenger application if they wish to continue using Facebook for mobile messaging. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Newsy (July 28, 2014) A Texas teen's Samsung phone apparently ignited while she slept, but what was the real problem here? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zillow Snaps Up Web Real Estate With Trulia Deal

Zillow Snaps Up Web Real Estate With Trulia Deal

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Zillow's decision to buy rival Trulia is just one step in a continuing string of acquisitions, and Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff is already thinking about his next big deal. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins