New ways technology can help drug addicts’ recover

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Drug abuse affects people around the world and right here in our own community. There are a lot of different ways for addicts can try to get clean…one of them: virtual reality.

Virtual reality is a computer technology that generates realistic sights—sounds and sensations through a headset.

A professor out of the University of Houston, Patrick Bordnick, who’s been researching addiction and ways to use virtual reality in therapy for over 10 years, founded the Virtual Reality Clinical Lab. It’s a place to study behaviors, addictions and interventions.

The Lab created a virtual drug cave that abusers can navigate with the help of a therapist. In this virtual world, addicts learn to identify and resist things that would normally trigger cravings.

Some researchers think that the drug cave will seem real enough that users will actually learn the skills they need to resist urges in the real world.

Bordnick says this type of therapy relies on what is known as cue-reactivity therapy. When someone sees a cue- or something that triggers their addictive behavior, they will have practiced how to resist or walk away.

While Bordnick and the team at the University of Houston think VR is a promising treatment for addicts, others say, there is simply not enough research behind it.

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