Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Researchers Create Virtual Reality 'Parties' To Treat Drug Addiction

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the virtual-drugs-just-not-as-much-fun dept.

Medicine 47

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes To help people overcome drug addiction, researchers at the University of Houston's Graduate School of Social Work are building hyper-realistic virtual worlds to recreate situations that trigger cravings for nicotine, alcohol, weed, and now, hard drugs like heroin. Traditional relapse therapy usually involves roleplaying: Therapists often pretend to be a friend or some other familiar person and offer the patient their drug of choice in order to teach them avoidance strategies. By strapping patients into a virtual reality headset and running them through a familiar scenario where they commonly use the drug, like a party, the treatment can be much more realistic and effective, researchers say (video).

cancel ×

47 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What if one becomes addicted to the VR? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579735)

It's a viscous cycle

Re:What if one becomes addicted to the VR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580175)

Gross.

Re:What if one becomes addicted to the VR? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580357)

There are drugs for that.

Re:What if one becomes addicted to the VR? (2)

operagost (62405) | about 2 months ago | (#47580903)

Don't be so thick.

Re:What if one becomes addicted to the VR? (1)

BRGeek (2734365) | about 2 months ago | (#47580949)

My kingdom for mod points!!

We all know the real reason for this (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47579755)

Many respectable physicists said that they weren't going to stand for this, partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn't get invited to those sorts of parties.

-Douglas Adams

Unrealistic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579769)

I know these methods are about as close as they can get to the real thing - but anyone in this "therapy" already knows that the right answer is always no. The person only has to make a real decision if they are in the real situation.

Re:Unrealistic... (4, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 months ago | (#47579877)

This is about teaching on HOW to say no despite peer pressure.

Re:Unrealistic... (2)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 months ago | (#47580243)

Peer pressure has LITTLE to do with it. WILL has everything to do with it.
First, rehab is for those who have the will to quit,want to quit, will work to quit.
Being sent to rehab by the court or family only results in a "go along, get along" approach to rehab.
These are the people who run out and get a fix upon release from the facility. They don't really want to quit. They enjoy their lifestyle, they are predisposed to the pleasure the drug brings and that is the way they want to live their life. The doctors and staff KNOW this.
MOST people in rehabs aren't there by choice, but their presence indicates a stream of revenue into the rehab; so nothing will ever change.
Carry on.....

Re:Unrealistic... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 months ago | (#47580301)

OK, you're right with that, but on the other hand it would be okay to measure the results of any therapy only compared to the number of patients who want it to be successful in the first place.

Re:Unrealistic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47581155)

"Damn it! You didn't *want* that penicillin injection to work, and that's why now you have sepsis!!"

Re:Unrealistic... (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 months ago | (#47580159)

The nice thing about this "treatment" is that you can experience the VR party at home, where you can reach for your stash.

Re:Unrealistic... (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about a month ago | (#47584175)

Spoken like someone who has never struggled with an addiction, but has an opinion about it anyway.

nicotine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579789)

havent been to one of em nicotine parties in a while....

Re:nicotine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580321)

Me neither, after I stopped going to parties where smoking is allowed indoor.

so in the interest of peer review (1)

0xdeaddead (797696) | about 2 months ago | (#47579793)

where can you download one of these uh parties.?

Hyper-realistic (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 months ago | (#47579809)

researchers at the University of Houston's Graduate School of Social Work are building hyper-realistic virtual worlds

I'm not sure about "hyper-realistic". :) Sprite characters which say a pre-recorded line when you trigger them? Whoopy. Actually, looking at the video [youtube.com] , it resembles a lot the game Under a Killing Moon [youtube.com] from 1994.

Despite the slightly crusty appearance, I do not want to completely stomp the idea though.

Perhaps the developers have never used drugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579815)

Just guessing

Virtual beer goggles (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 months ago | (#47579829)

So essentially I can use my Occulus Rift as virtual beer goggles then?

Being a former drug addict, I think (4, Interesting)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 months ago | (#47579875)

that this is really stupid. Maybe it will help the non real addicts that people think need help, but those of us who are true addicts it's about our will power, nothing less. Back when I was strung out on heroin, it didn't matter if I went to rehab, got clean, i would be strung out again within 1 week once I got left to my own ends.

What got me to quit was getting help for some of my mental issues, and me getting completely sick of the junky scene. I hated being dope sick. I hated the crap I did to stay well. I learned to remember all the bad shit associated with being a heroin addict, and I left that as a reminder in my mind on what the path leads to.

On top of that, I got as far away from other users as possible. I don't want to associate with them, hang with them, even talk to them. Fuck that. If you think you can still be friends with addicts/users, you are mistaken. If they can't get clean, screw them, they will only pull you down.

There is plenty to do without hanging around people who use/abuse drugs. If you really want to stay clean, you accept that as reality and change your life, otherwise you are just setting yourself up to fail on purpose.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (5, Insightful)

gunz_n_space80 (3711137) | about 2 months ago | (#47579909)

Well said! I know it's not the same, but I had serious problems with alcoholism years ago and got the same impression that you did from reading this article. After-school special peer pressure users or drinkers are not suffering from a real addiction. My addiction was a very personal thing for me that no one else who knew me would understand or approve of which is why I had to keep it secret. I felt OK and was able to cope only when I was under the influence, or knew that I was not far removed from being able to achieve that state. I lacked the mental toughness and tools to fix the problems that the sober me could not reconcile and turned to liquor to define me because I just could not be bothered with it. After coming face to face with the fact that I had irrevocably altered my life in a profoundly negative way, I made the choice to live life sober and take control.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (2)

imidan (559239) | about 2 months ago | (#47579913)

On top of that, I got as far away from other users as possible. I don't want to associate with them, hang with them, even talk to them.

Isn't that kind of the point of this, though, to simulate a party with those people, and immerse you in it while you're sober, and reinforce that preference to stay away from users of your drug? I mean, I don't think it's a cure-all, and it sounds like the project is too young for clinical trials or to produce statistics about relapse rates or anything, but isn't it worth checking out this avenue as a possibility for addiction therapy? I mean, maybe kicking an addiction is much about willpower, but whence that willpower?

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 months ago | (#47579975)

So you are saying that hanging out with other users had potentially bad consequences.

That seems almost exactly what they are trying to reproduce in this treatment. They are trying to bridge the gap between rehab and what you did during that one week after.

I see it as a more practical alternative to sending a [whoever helps you during rehab] to accompany you everywhere for some weeks.

If Muhammad has no time to go to the mountain, the mountain shall come to Muhammad, virtually.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

gunz_n_space80 (3711137) | about 2 months ago | (#47580257)

I think that what Nyder means is pretty much that once you fix the underlying problems in your head and with your life, there is no longer a need to hang out with people that have yet to even acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. What could you possibly gain by that other than depressing the heck out of yourself? And what he was talking about is not what they are reproducing with the treatment because the focus of the treatment is the substance and some common situations where the substances are used or obtained, not the patient seeking treatment and the cause of him or her turning to drugs in the first place.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47579989)

But... but... 'addiction' is something you have no control over (sarcasm), and it's called by 'chemical imbalances' in the brain (more sarcasm)...

Well done for finally facing the emotions that you were constantly taking drugs to avoid feeling.

Others would do well to read the books 'The myth of addiction' and 'Addiction is a choice'.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 months ago | (#47580089)

In the case of most drugs, not only is it a chemical effect, but it's possible to point to the exact chemical receptors. Morphine, for example, binds to -opioid receptors - causing analgesic and euphoric effects. This causes the receptors to desensitise - which both means the morphine doesn't work so well and the dosage must be increased, and that the subject feels like crap any time they don't have enough morphine in them to counter the desensitisation to the point of physical symptoms. That's why opioids are generally not used medically unless the patient is in very severe pain, or terminal.

Nicotine works in a similar way, affecting nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The effect is less dramatic, but the basic mechanism is the same. Just ask someone who has quit smoking how hard it was for them.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 months ago | (#47580097)

Slashdot, get some unicode support here! -opioid indeed.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 months ago | (#47580109)

If you think you can still be friends with addicts/users, you are mistaken. If they can't get clean, screw them, they will only pull you down.

I suppose it can work with hard drugs or alcohol - I am not, and never was, a user or either, so I'm no specialist though.

However, I AM a nicotine addict. I say nicotine and not tobacco, because I have switched to vaping as a risk mitigation strategy (and quit smoking for good as a result).

One thing I can tell you as a former smoker is, when you're hooked on tobacco, there's no escaping it. You can't avoid being with other smokers, because the smell of cigarette is everywhere. When I quit smoking, it'd only take some random guy who had just smoked outside, walking past me, reeking of cold cigarette smoke, to send me craving like there was no tomorrow.

Random guys who smell of tobacco are everywhere. You just can't escape the smell. You're constantly bombarded with reminders that, yes, you'd really REALLY want to smoke one just right now.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 months ago | (#47580143)

If you think being a nicotine addict makes it hard to avoid contact with the addiction, just imagine being addicted to sex.

Your choices go from cabin in the woods to monk temple.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580241)

Or worse, just imagine being addicted to making stupid comments on slashdot.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580309)

Sure, everything you encounter in every day's life will make you feel the urge to leave a stupid comment on slashdot - this addiction is totally worse than every other addiction on this planet.

EVERYTHING!

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

OrtegaPeru (1201867) | about 2 months ago | (#47580489)

I quit smoking cold turkey a few years ago before vaping really took off. There are a lot of factors that go into whether someone can finally quit or not, but I will say that the pleasant, tempting odor of cigarettes went away eventually. Sometimes a light tobacco scent on the air will smell good in an abstract sense but when I am around other smokers it's a pretty disgusting odor. The hardest part for me about quitting was being left out socially every time there was a smoke break. It was actually when I started smoking in high school that I made the most friends. Also at most jobs I've worked at the smokers club takes precedence over all formal rank. It's pretty twisted.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47580939)

One thing I can tell you as a former smoker is, when you're hooked on cigarettes, there's no escaping it. You can't avoid being with other smokers, because the smell of cigarette is everywhere. When I quit smoking, it'd only take some random guy who had just smoked outside, walking past me, reeking of cold cigarette smoke, to send me craving like there was no tomorrow.

Random guys who smell of tobacco are everywhere. You just can't escape the smell. You're constantly bombarded with reminders that, yes, you'd really REALLY want to smoke one just right now.

FTFY.

I switched from cigarettes to a pipe about 2.5 years ago, and now I can't stand the chemical reek of coffin nails. "random guy who smells like cigarettes" grosses me out just as much as he does a non-smoker, maybe even more so. Conversely, I get complements about the smell of pipe smoke all the time, and people actually tell me, "it's cool, you can smoke in here, I like the way that smells." I still won't smoke indoors out of principle, though.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

nblender (741424) | about 2 months ago | (#47582313)

I quit smoking lots of times... I only quit smoking for good, once... As such, I only have one data point. I've been clean for 9 years.

My overriding reason to quit was that I didn't want my son to know me as a smoker.

What helped me along the way, encountering the situations you describe, were the negative aspects of what it was like as a smoker. The disgusting cough in the morning, the stench on my clothes, the blandness of my food... If I walked past a smoker, I just brought forth the memory of those negative effects and it was enough to bridge me back to normalcy. It took about 2 years before I no longer craved a cigarette... I have friends who smoke and don't even have the slightest tinge of a craving..

I dread think of how difficult it is to quit heroine...

Heroine is a bitch! I'm addicted to Katniss. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47583643)

Heroine is a bitch! I'm addicted to Katniss.

http://www.wired.com/2012/03/katniss-everdeen-hollywood-heroines/

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47583655)

Yeah, I tend to walk through someone else's breathed-out smoke every 4-6 months. Rather unavoidable.

Regarding the "guys who smell of tobacco are everywhere", maybe that's just the "everywhere" that you're at.
For example, it seems to me that places where people are doing more physical work, like in a mechanical shop, tend to have more smokers than places that have higher populations (by percentage) of college graduates.

I live in Washington state, and a law was passed that basically outlaws smoking in or near buildings used by the public. Even restaurants are not immune. Restaurant owners who wished to allow smoking in or around their place have found that allowing smoking is a violation of state law.

As a non-smoker who opposes smoking, even I was shocked at how much the government was meddling into an issue that I felt was a private affair.
Regardless of that angle, the results are that I do notice less times when I notice people smoking in public places.
Smoking is more frequently seen when visiting a person in their home, parties, and privately-owned (not employer-owned or rented) cars.

So, move to Washington state, start hob-nobbing with the eggheads, and you just might find that the random guys who smell of tobacco aren't everywhere.

Re:Being a former drug addict, I think (1)

fightermagethief (3645291) | about 2 months ago | (#47582909)

Yeah, a real addict will just fake his/her way through the VR to get back outside the program and to the drugs again. Addicted people tend to spend all their energy manipulating their environment to be able to do drugs freely anyway. Someone has to find their own motivation and reasons for quitting.

Sex Addict? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580105)

So these parties... Can they be like gang bangs or orgies or maybe just a virtual BJ behind a virtual dumpster behind the virtual Walmart?

Nothing new, and possibly copied. (1)

The WTF Department (3137159) | about 2 months ago | (#47580181)

Without reading the original article, that looks like a direct ripoff from Virtually Betters stuff that's been out for years. http://www.virtuallybetter.com... [virtuallybetter.com]

I'm an addict. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580203)

I was hooked on heroin for 15 years and I've been going to the methadone clinic for the last 5 and I don't want help. Opiates are the only thing that cured my depression issues and yes I've tried almost all anti-depressants very bad results. Paxil ended with attempted suicide which put me in a coma for six weeks.

As a long time drug user.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580281)

#1 I take offense with every involvement with drugs being abuse or addiction. I find cigarettes ti be much worse of an addiction than any narcotic.
#2 We invited tons of shrinks, lawyers, and that sort of thing to our LSD parties :)
#3 Virtual party is at best gonna help a small segment, since well, not everyone needs a party to do drugs.
#4 If your self control is so low that you would invovle yourself with anything like heroin you have to be stupid; look at the crowd using it.
#5 I love drugs. All drugs. Drugs are wonderful, and odds are you love and are on drugs right now and you don't even know it.
#6 "Narcotics lists"/"schedules" is nothign but a mere fluke; narcotics only describe drugs derived from the opium poppy.
#7 Do your own research, and take everything you "hear" 2nd hand with a grain of salt.
#8 Weed? really?? You know, new study suggests that the mixing with tobacco has an incredibly habit forming effect as opposed to the pure herb.
#9 Standing invitation to the author - obviously you didn't get invited to a lot of fun parties: got a blotter and and some buds with your name on them.
#10 Have a nice trip :)

H.I.V CURE (-1, Troll)

Laura Benson (3772189) | about 2 months ago | (#47580363)

I was diagnosed of this HIV deadly disease a friend of mine introduce Dr Lawrence to me and I actually did contact him after he has prepare what he said he will do and he sent it to me and I used it according to his prescription after one week I went to the hospital to check my status again because I was feeling differently from the way I used when I was tested POSITIVE to my greatest surprise the status was NEGATIVE the medical doctors there was surprise and I have to tell the whole world about this if you are still having this similar problem I recommend Dr Lawrence to you drlawrencespelltemple@gmail.com +2348143988536

Won't work for heroin, maybe others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47580855)

I can kind of see this working for nicotine - it's a pretty social drug - and I can't speak towards alcohol. And the fact that they're using this for weed is just funny.

But this will never work for heroin. The internal pressures are 1000 times stronger than any external pressures could ever be. What "triggers" my usage when I'm trying to quit? It's not being at a party, or having a friend pressure me. It's lying in bed, aching and fatigued and going between soaking the sheets with foul sweat and shivering like crazy every 3 minutes. Feeling a craving not unlike that which you feel for air after holding your breath too long. Knowing that I can take away the sickness, give myself the "air" I'm craving and needed, AND put myself in a state of post-coital, wrapped-up-in-a-warm-blanket, just-won-the-lottery bliss. All I have to do is put off quitting one day. Yeah, tomorrow would be better anyway...

(Posting AC for obvious reasons)

One of these things is not like the others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47581023)

What's up with lumping marijuana in with dangerous addictive drugs like alcohol, nicotine, and heroin?

Re:One of these things is not like the others (1)

Dan Singer (3532283) | about 2 months ago | (#47581903)

I wouldn't be so fast to marginalize one habit over another. Marijuana might not be physically harmful, but I do think its a fair assessment to say that some people use it to excess and struggle controlling their use. This also can be applied to video games, internet browsing, food, and so on, but it doesn't make the issue any less severe for those who seek help.

Re:One of these things is not like the others (1)

fightermagethief (3645291) | about 2 months ago | (#47582855)

Marijuana, for me at least, is harder to quit than meth, herioin, or cigarettes. All of those things have very noticeable downsides that you can't really avoid. They give you a lot of incentive to quit. Marijuana just makes you look a little tired and therefore unprofessional, or maybe not too serious about life. I get a nervous, sick feeling in my stomach even thinking about hard drug or alcohol use, but marijuana will probably always have a draw and many good associations. I think of it like coffee. It may not have negative effects, it may even be 'healthy' to use, but I feel like I shouldn't desire any sort of chemical to make myself feel 'good'.

with friends like these... (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 2 months ago | (#47589681)

I think the entire approach is wrong-headed. Why would it be acceptable for someone who's attempting to recover from addiction hang out with people who are still using - people who would encourage them to use again, in spite of the typically massive damage to their so-called "friend's" life that landed them in rehab in the first place?
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?