A new research conducted by Doug Hyun Han from the Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul shows how virtual reality treats alcohol and tobacco additions. The study was carried out with the help of 12 patients providing evidence that there are many other uses to VR consoles besides gaming.
Doug Hyun Han was inspired in his new test by the positive effects that virtual reality has had during other psychological treatments. Particularly, patients, who suffer from phobias and fears have made significant progress due to this new modern treatment.
The scientist decided to test the same means of investigation on alcohol and tobacco addicts. He has, thus, gathered a group of 12 individuals for his study and asked them to take part in two virtual reality sessions per week.
The experiment lasted for 5 weeks during which the investigator has carefully documented the evolution of the patients. To make things more challenging, the medical experts alternated three scenarios giving patients the possibility to get used to different situations.
The first scenario presupposed the introduction of the patients in a ‘relaxed’ virtual reality. The second scene was designed to study the behavior of the patient in a ‘high-risk’ environment, namely, in a location where alcohol is consumed.
Finally, the third situation confronted patients with images, smells and sounds suggesting people feeling sick from too much alcohol. This third stage was purposefully designed to trigger rejection on behalf of people who abuse alcohol and other substances.
Results indicate that the method is really useful and it could, therefore be used to treat other types of psychological affections, as well. The brain scans that were effected on patients and non-addictive persons showed that people who are prone to develop alcohol addictions have a faster brain limbic circuit.
It is this particular difference that causes alcohol abusers to feel the need to consume alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, post-study tests showed that the brain structure of the patients has significantly improved due to the virtual reality scenarios.
The leader of the experiment has concluded that virtual reality could become a constant means in the treatment of alcoholism. One of its many benefits is the fact that programs may be tailored according to the patient’s needs and preferences.