Study Shows VR Could Help With Substance Abuse

Subjects had the chance to go face-to-face with their future selves.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a study recently showing how VR technology could be used to help those suffering from substance abuse. First reported by 13WTHR, the study involved 21 adults in early substance use disorder (SUD) recovery using VR technology to communicate with different variations of their future selves.

“Sustained remission from substance use disorder (SUD) is challenged by high relapse rates, which provides opportunities for novel clinical interventions,” said the team in the study. “Immersive virtual reality (VR) permits delivering synthetic experiences that feel real and actualizes otherwise impossible scenarios for therapeutic benefit.”

Participants were presented with two versions of themselves age-progressed by 15 years: SUD Future Self and a Recovery Future Self. Each avatar featured personalized voices and delivered interactive monologues personalized to each subject. Following their VR conversations, participants were sent images of their Recovery Future Selves on a daily basis.

Of the 21 participants who received VR treatment, 18 remained sober for at least a 30-day period.

Credit: Shen, Y.I., Nelson, A.J. & Oberlin, B.G.

“The current study demonstrates an implementation readily applied in the clinic and shows promise for facilitating SUD recovery. Creative collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and VR developers has great potential to revolutionize mental health interventions and expand the range of tools for clinicians targeting SUD and other disorders.”

For more information check out the full study here.

Feature Image Credit: WTHR

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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