BEACON TRANSCRIPT – It would seem that not only gamers will reap the benefits of virtual reality. According to a new study in phycology, VR might help heroin addicts or people suffering from other forms of mental issues using a 3D rendered environment.
Historically speaking, the concept of virtual reality isn’t entirely new. In fact, the concept has been penned down by Antonin Artaud, a French Surrealist poet and playwright in an essay where he discussed the illusion of objects and characters in the theatre. Nowadays, virtual reality is used mainly in training and in gaming.
For example, future jet pilots will benefit more from training on a VR-rendered cockpit, than with a simulation rendered on the traditional LCD display. The same goes for other domains.
Recently, a team of psychologists from the University of Houston has announced that it was successful in treating the symptoms associated with drug addiction and withdrawal by using a virtual reality-based therapy or VRT.
According to their claims, the team continues the work of Doctor Richard Lamson and the Kaiser Permanente Psychiatry Group. During the ‘90s, Lamson and his team of researchers managed to cure a patient of acrophobia (fear of heights) by using a virtual reality device.
Treading carefully in the doctor’s footsteps, the team managed to use the same VRT in order to treat patients suffering from heroin addiction. As explained by the team, the most common form of therapy used to treat patients who suffer from this dangerous form of drug addiction is role play.
Patients, with the help of the doctors, would reenact a scene where the patient sees other people shooting heroin while partying. Unfortunately, as the researcher pointed out, this therapeutical approach has its limits. First of all, it is place out of context, meaning that the experiment is performed in a controlled environment and the patients don’t have access to real heroin.
But the VR headsets might change that. According to the team from Houston, once the patient puts the headgear on, he or she will be immersed in a real-life 3D environment. The software is designed to mimic every aspect of a wild party, with people dancing, drinking and shooting heroin.
The application is designed to measure the patient’s response to the real thing. Being put tete-a-tete with the real thing the patient will respond in entirely different manner. The doctors can use the results of this experience in order to see how the patients fares and if he or she requires additional therapy.
VR might help heroin addicts if the VR application developed by the University of Houston will be used as standard procedure.