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Friday, November 20, 2015

The New Frontier: Virtual Reality Therapy

virtual reality therapy addiction treatmentScience fiction is becoming reality in addiction treatment as researchers bring online the newest application for virtual reality: drug and alcohol addiction therapy. Teams in South Korea and at the University of Houston have been studying this new form of therapy, and their research is yielding promising results.

Situational Therapy at a New Level
For years, therapists have employed role-playing as a technique to prepare their recovering patients to deal with uncomfortable interactions and relapse triggers. Modeling situations which might induce a return to addictive behaviors gave therapists insight into the vulnerability and unpreparedness of their clients. They were then able to replay the scene, using strategies and coping mechanisms for successfully managing such situations without returning to risky behaviors. With the advent of virtual reality, such role-playing scenes become much more realistic and provide an experience that more closely mirrors real life.

Involving All the Senses
The virtual reality programs that are being developed for addiction therapy are rooted in realism, using input from actual users. Scenes reference the settings, sounds, smells and activities common to drug and alcohol use. These atmospheric cues are used to induce cravings, indicating how completely users can be involved in the program. More sophisticated VR programs are giving operators the ability to change details and present specific cues, indicating the extent to which such programs may one day be tailored the individual.

Still in the Research Stage
Virtual reality as a treatment for drug and alcohol abuse is still being developed and tested. Studies have been small, and more research is needed to measure the long-term effectiveness of the therapy. For the time being, VR programs are being studied as a complement to established therapies.

The potential for virtual reality therapy is enormous. The technology is being tested in conjunction with treatments for smoking cessation and PTSD, as well as alcohol abuse, marijuana use, and even heroin addiction. The greatest promise lies in the potential of VR to offer a low cost, individualized, avoidance therapy which may some day be delivered right to your smart phone, for use whenever you need it.

State of the Art Holistic Treatment
If you have tried to shake off your addiction without success, Complete Harmony, CA’s holistic drug treatment center, may hold the answer for you. Cutting edge therapies and alternative approaches address the needs of the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. You will be empowered to take charge of your life, your choices, your recovery. Call 866-930-4673 to learn about our comprehensive residential treatment plans and start your admission process.
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