Zach Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University, has unveiled a new “virtual reality” program that uses pavlovian conditioning to try and treat crack addicts. While the details are a bit vague, the program appears to be a “virtual world” in which addicts can experience virtual cravings. Here are some more details on how the program is meant to work from an ABC News article:
When temptation arises in certain situations, the patient rates his or her own craving level. But the magic moment comes when a high craving subsides, which it does, because the patient won’t be taking drugs in the virtual world.
The therapist tries to tie that moment, when a craving subsides, to a trigger, like a tone. So the addict eventually learns to associate the sound with the sensation of decreased craving.
The ultimate goal is to stop a craving before it begins, even if an addict walks into a tempting situation in the real world.
For example, if an addict ends up in a tempting situation, he or she can take out the phone donated by the program, dial a number and hear that tone. The addict remembers the sound learned in the therapy session, and the craving should subside.
So if crack addicts need video games to stop their crack addiction, do video game addicts need crack? Makes you think…
Read the ABC News article here…
(hat tip: Joystiq)