After carrying out this study, researchers are quite positive on the potential use of virtual reality in the form of therapy for alcohol use disorders. The new research has stated that a form of virtual reality may help people with alcohol dependence.

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Study’s senior researcher Doug Hyun Han of Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul said virtual reality is used as a therapy to treat phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, it is not a new technology in the medicine field.


In the study, the researchers recruited 12 patients who were being treated for alcohol dependence. All of them were asked to follow a week-long detox programme and then they had 10 sessions of virtual-reality, which were done twice a week for five weeks.


The virtual reality sessions had three different virtual scenes — one in relaxing environment; second in a high-risk situation in which patients were in a restaurant where other people were drinking and third was an aversive situation. In this situation, patients were surrounded by the sights, sounds and people getting sick from too much alcohol.


Before the start of study, all the participants underwent positron emission tomography (PET) and computerised tomography (CT) brain scans. It led the researchers to study the patients’ brain metabolism.


It was found that in comparison to healthy people, people dependent on alcohol had a faster metabolism in the brain’s limbic circuit that indicated increased sensitivity to stimuli, like alcohol. After receiving virtual therapy, patients’ metabolism slowed and a reduced craving for alcohol was reported.

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