A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs states that virtual reality therapy may help in treating alcoholism. Scientists from Chung-Ang University in South Korea said that they are optimistic about the potential for virtual reality as a therapy for alcohol use disorders.
The study involved 12 patients who were undergoing treatment for alcohol dependence. All of them went through a week long detox program and then had 10 sessions of virtual reality which was done twice a week for five weeks. In each session patients had to undergo through 3 virtual realities. The first was meant to relax them, the second was meant to trigger alcohol cravings in which they were shown scenes from a bar and the third was a scene where people were falling sick after consuming too much alcohol.
Before the programme started all patients had to undergo positron emission tomography (PET) and computerised tomography (CT) brain scans. This helped researchers in determining the patients’ brain metabolism. It was found that alcohol dependent patients had faster metabolism in the brain’s limbic circuit compared to that of normal people. However, brain scans done after five weeks of therapy showed that the brain’s metabolism had slowed which indicated a reduced craving for alcohol. To prove the viability of this therapy comprehensive research needs to be done before it is introduced on a large scale.