This is a fascinating twist to the traditional virtual reality applications we are used to seeing. We know that virtual reality, if done well, will make the virtual world seem as realistic as the real world. For example, you can walk through a realistic maze that goes on forever in a virtual world, while not realizing you never left the room in the real world. Researchers are going to try to use the psychological mind twist in virtual reality to treat addiction. The jury is still out on whether or not it will work.
If you have ever been addicted to drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, you know that it’s only a matter of time before you are tempted. It’s how you handle those situations that will determine whether or not you slide back into the old habits. By creating an element of reality that seems like a tempting situation, doctors might be able to treat addiction by letting the addict experience that relapse environment, and develop the necessary coping skills, all within a controlled area.
The idea is that by allowing addicts to feel the craving, and then cope with it (all in the fake world), the addicts will develop skills that they’ll be able to take with them into real world situations. However, as we all know, the fake world and the real world are very different places. Will this scenario actually help treat addiction, or will the addict revert back to old habits regardless? Only time will tell.
Since the virtual world that the addicts will be immersed in can be tailored to fit their unique situations (doctors can add things into the experience in real time), it will provide all kinds of data that can predict how they might react when the same situation comes up in real life. You can read an in-depth article about this on the source site linked below. It’s definitely an interesting concept. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
In the event that this unique form of treatment is not successful, addicts should see this and seek treatment via physical outpatient treatment centers. When push comes to shove and addicts are at their worst, there is no substitute for hands-on assistance from human counselors who are on call 24/7. Rehab should not be seen as a last resort option, as addiction is a gravely serious issue that should not be taken lately.
Researchers Hope Virtual Reality Will Help Treat Addiction
(by helping addicts develop coping skills in a safe, customized virtual reality environment)