PNB Colloquium Series - Noah Robinson - Cognitive Behavioral Immersion: Treating Addiction with Virtual Reality

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PC/155

Noah Robinson
Vanderbilt University

Cognitive Behavioral Immersion: Treating Addiction with Virtual Reality

Abstract: Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing both motor vehicle and firearm deaths (National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, 2015). Substance abuse disorders often develop on top of strong emotional processes and negative experiences - intoxication becomes a way to cope with negative affect. In order to prevent relapse, interventions must be immediately accessible to break maladaptive cycles of self-regulation. Immersive virtual reality (VR) can provide immediate access to cognitive behavioral interventions, social support and emotion regulation tools. Data collected immediately before and after 165 first-time exposures to VR games at a residential rehab facility suggests that VR increases positive affect and decreases negative affect. By changing the context of a patient’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physiology, VR is able to alter mood. This may be an especially expeditious time to deliver interventions. Additionally, VR may aid in relapse prevention by providing an immediate alternative behavior that facilitates social connection and affective regulation.

Host: Paul Andrews
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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | PNB