Thursday July 18, 2019

Virtual Reality Treatment Reduces Desire for Drugs

During the treatment, users wearing a headset see several common drug use scenarios displayed through VR software

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Virtual Reality, Treatment, Drugs
More than 70 per cent of the participants have reduced their desire for drugs after undergoing the treatment, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. Pixabay

More than 1,000 drug users in Shanghai have undergone an eight-month virtual reality treatment programme over the last three years to overcome their addiction.

More than 70 per cent of the participants have reduced their desire for drugs after undergoing the treatment, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday citing the local judicial department.

During the treatment, users wearing a headset see several common drug use scenarios displayed through VR software. The headset is equipped with an infrared eye-tracker that can detect what they are looking at and for how long. If one watches an object for a long time, he or she must be interested in it.

The VR system simulates drug-craving cues in order to collect psychological data to evaluate addicts and help them off drugs. Their biological indicators, such as heart rate and skin conductivity, are recorded at the same time.

Virtual Reality, Treatment, Drugs
More than 1,000 drug users in Shanghai have undergone an eight-month virtual reality treatment programme over the last three years. Pixabay

Traditional methods to induce drug cravings are mainly fake drugs and pictures of drugs, which look unreal, and addicts’ eye movements cannot be recorded accurately, making assessment difficult, said Xu Ding, a senior researcher with the Shanghai rehabilitation administration.

“The VR technology can offer an immersive environment, such as a party, a bar or a KTV room, where users can interact with virtual features,” Xu said.

Health professionals also use VR to help addicts cut their psychological reliance on drugs.

After inducing drug cravings, VR images automatically switch to scenes showing negative consequences of drug use, such as disease, broken families and suicide, to arouse feelings of discomfort and then aversion to drugs.

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“If you see a worm every time you eat an apple, you’ll stop wanting apples,” said Zhang Chaojing, of Shanghai Qingdong rehabilitation centre.

Sometimes the VR system displays natural scenery to help calm addicts, better regulate their emotions and gradually abandon drugs.

“Modern solutions are more scientific,” said Xu. (IANS)

Next Story

Suspending Students Serve as Negative Turning Point in Adolescence; Makes Them More Prone to Hold Guns, Sell Drugs

Mowen and colleagues studied to what extent being suspended from middle and high school was a turning point that led to more deviant behaviour

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suspending students, drugs
Offending was defined as attacking or assaulting someone, possessing a gun, selling illegal substances, destroying property and stealing. Pixabay

Suspending students from school can do more harm than good, said researchers, suggesting that suspending students can serve as a negative and harmful turning point in adolescence, resulting in more crime like assaults, stealing and selling drugs in the neighbourhood.

The study by researchers at Bowling Green State University and Eastern Kentucky University and published in Justice Quarterly found that rather than decreasing subsequent offending, school suspensions increase such behaviour.

“Intensifying disciplinary strategies — what some have called the criminalization of school discipline — may do more harm than good and could result in more crime in schools, neighbourhoods and communities,” said Thomas James Mowen, assistant professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University.

Mowen and colleagues studied to what extent being suspended from middle and high school was a turning point that led to more deviant behaviour. They also examined whether school suspensions, the most common response to youth’s misbehaviour at school, amplified the likelihood that adolescents would offend as they grew into young adults.

suspending students, drugs
Powder drugs. Wikimedia Commons

Offending was defined as attacking or assaulting someone, possessing a gun, selling illegal substances, destroying property and stealing. The study found that exclusionary school discipline (suspensions) increased subsequent offending, substantially amplifying deviant behaviour as the youth moved through adolescence and into adulthood. Repeated suspensions further amplified subsequent offending.

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The researchers took into account a variety of factors that influence offending behaviour, including whether youth dropped out of school, how youth felt about their schools (whether they felt safe, though their teachers were interested in them, believed school discipline was fair), how they felt about their families and their families’ income.

“The findings point to the need for school officials and policymakers to recognize the negative consequences of these approaches, examine the underlying causes of students’ behaviour and change how we manage that misbehaviour,” said Mowen. (IANS)