2 types of addiction treatment applications are available by C2Care :
Substance addiction: alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis and cocaine.
Behavioral addictions: Gambling, Shopping addiction.
Virtual environments reproduce situations where the patient will be exposed to the underlying cause of the craving (the feeling that he or she wants to consume), and “forces” the patient to confront them. By exposure to the object, or the underlying craving, the therapist can work not only on the cognitive processes (thoughts and dysfunctional believes), but also on the behavioral problems, in order to find adequate methods to manage the addiction treatment.
Virtual Reality Services
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This application helps finding relevant answers through its different functionalities: exposure to multiple underlying causes of cravings for cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Synthetic stimuli in this app creates dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs related to addiction, to maximize cognitive restructuring potential. To even better work on the problems that the behavioral response creates, add cardiac coherence exercises to the temptations given in the application.
This application makes it possible to place the patient into a virtual casino. This interface solves the practitioner’s problem by accompanying the patient into a real-life gambling environment. Here the practitioner can follow the cognitive and behavioral changes experienced by the patient in this environment. Craving stimuli that is presented in this app ranges from slot machines, facial expressions of the avatars present in the gambling environment and more.
Virtual Reality Services
C2Care is also a scientific committee and a network of partners. With a scientific reasearch and development department, we validate our software with a constant concern about the therapeutic effectiveness. Today, we collaborate with Universities and health establishments in the realization of experimental work on the treatment of anxiety disorders by virtual reality.
Dr. Cabe of the CHU in Caen has together with his team carried out work on how to use of virtual reality a psychotherapeutic tool for managing and treating alcohol disorders.
Professor Brousse of the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital is currently working on an experimental study targeting addiction to cocaine and the therapeutic impacts of using virtual reality.
Other clinical trials in the addiction fiels are also underway with teams from the University Hospital Center of Lille, Nantes and Nice.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A VR SESSION ?
When treating addictions in Virtual Reality, the patient will be exposed to the signs of craving. The definite advantage of virtual reality is that it offers the possibility of multiplying situations to allow a gradual change of exposures, ranging from a light craving to a severe craving. Patients will be immersed in contexts that activates the urge to consume or produce a certain behavior (casino, bar, apartment). Virtual reality offers the possibility of synthetically reproducing real environments that would be difficult to access during treatment. The ecology of these contexts will allow multifactorial treatment. Indeed, during an in virtuo treatment in addictology, the patient, when confronted with temptation clues, will produce cognitions related to his addictive pathology. After updating these, the therapist will teach patients to modify them and thus reinforce their control strategies. This methodology will also be used for the prevention of relapse. On the other hand, via the in virtuo exposure, the patient will first of all be able to benefit from relaxation and then be exposed to situations generating craving. Virtual reality exposure therapies for the treatment of addictions are aimed at adults, adolescents and children.
WHO CAN BE TREATED?
Children, adolescents, adults and seniors can benefit from Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy.
However, restrictions exist for:
– Children under 4 years old because the lens of the eye is not yet fully formed
– People with epilepsy
– Pregnant women (precautionary measure taken in the absence of concrete medical data)
– Psychotics in the decompensation phase
STUDIES PROVING EFFECTIVENESS OF VIRTUAL REALITY
Ghita et al. (2018) highlighted in their literature review, the interest of virtual reality in the management of alcohol addiction. Her et al. (2015) conducted a study demonstrating that synthetic stimuli associated with craving indices aroused activation of the reward system to reproduce similar physiological conditions to those experienced in ecological situations.
In other words, virtual reality generates a craving similar to that encountered by patients suffering from alcohol addiction in their daily lives. Saladin et al. (2006) obtained similar results by targeting cocaine craving.
Evidence also suggests that behavioral addictions have therapeutic success through virtual reality: Christian (2018) conducted a comparative study between the virtual reality exposure and imagination on display in the treatment of gambling addiction. The results demonstrated that exposure in Virtual Reality provided access to significantly more dysfunctional beliefs and thoughts related to addiction. This maximizes the therapeutic benefits of cognitive restructuring.