Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.
Prescription drug abuse can take over someone's life if help isn't found. It doesn’t have to be this way though. For those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, help is only a phone call away.
The virtual reality therapy (VRT) has been helping patients, ameliorate the impact of mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders. The technology used in virtual reality helps improve the association between patients and therapists, and is an effective tool used by the latter to help the former.
VRT to treat addiction
A recent study, conducted by the University Of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has revealed the utility of VRT in helping drug addicts get rid of their dependence on heroin.
The researches operated an eight-camera infrared system to project 3D avatars and environments helping patients interact in a virtual reality chamber known as the ‘heroin cave’. The environment mimics the features of a house party where drug is inhaled. The duplication produced with the help of VRT is done to accomplish the impact of stimuli that spurs addicts to consume the drug.
While forcing patients to relive the impact created by the stimuli caused by the effect of the VRT, psychologists believe that the subjects of the study would be prepared beforehand should the situation present itself in real life. The study is being described by the authors as a major breakthrough in the treatment of addiction using the VRT concept stressing that the virtual reality environments provide a more correct and precise impression of addiction than the traditional methods.
Patrick Bordnick, Associate Dean of the research and one of the authors of the study, said, “In traditional therapy we role-play with the patient but the context is all wrong. 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.”
Prior to this study, Bordnick had revealed success in treating people addicted to cigarettes with patients showing greater confidence to withstand any kind of urge to smoke in the real world. The coping skills in virtual environments helped patients manage their cravings better. Bordnick added, “We want to know if decreasing craving in a lab modifies heroin use in the real world.”
Significance of VRT
The significance of the study lies in the fact that the VRT mode of treatment can be used to treat heroin addicts. The U.S. is currently feeling the heat due to an increase in heroin addiction rate. Deaths from overdose are constantly on the rise with more and more people getting hooked to heroin to satiate their addiction to prescription opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a rise in fatal heroin overdoses by 39 per cent from 2012 to 2013. According to, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the number of heroin overdose deaths in Colorado rose from 91 people in 2012 to 118 people in 2013.
Path to recovery
Most people addicted to prescription opioids turn to heroin to escape pain or get the same feel that opioid drugs cause, say experts. Recovery from prescription abuse takes time and the struggle to stay sober may be a lifelong struggle. But help is available. If you or your loved one is trying to overcome opioid addiction, you may approach the Colorado Prescription Abuse Helpline. You may call our 24/7 helpline number 866-922-5915 or chat online for further information.