STATES CHRONICLE – Recent news revealed scientists developed some kind of virtual reality for heroin addicts to help them battle their addiction. It is believed virtual reality headsets may give a change to heroin users to renounce their dangerous habit. Currently, researchers are conducting a study to see if addicts respond to their cravings through a virtual world interferes with their actions in the real world.
The study will involve heroin users who will be asked to wear a virtual reality headset. Using the headset, participants will be able to navigate in a so-called heroin cave. In this cave they will find various stimuli aimed at evoking their cravings for the drug.
The environment resembles a house party where the heroin is snorted and another one in which the drug it’s injected. According to the developers, the program was created in almost a year. They used an infrared system with eight cameras in order to project life-sized 3D avatars and environments.
Such a feature allows participants to easily make interactions in a virtual reality room. The developers named the room ‘the heroin cave’. The heroin cave provides specific details such as an open pizza box or cash on a table next to a cigarette lighter.
Such details are meant to trigger and intensify the heroin cravings. The simulation program is said to be a response to the limitations of classical therapy. Generally, in normal therapy session patients are subjected to role playing. However, according to Patrick Bordnick, one of the lead researchers of the study, the context in which patients are facing their problem is not suitable. He added that:
“They know they’re in a therapist’s office and the drug isn’t there. We need to put patients in realistic virtual reality environments and make them feel they are there with the drug, and the temptation, to get a clearer picture and improve interventions.”
In the last 20 years, the heroin problem worsened in the United States. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated 153,000 current heroin users in the United States in 2007. Heroin was reported as the most commonly abused drug in terms of the number of treatment admissions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2007, death cases related to heroin in the United States have been fairly stable, approximately 2,000 deaths annually. The program based on virtual reality for heroin addicts might prove to be great news for doctors and all those who are willing to help heroin users.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia