Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Will Virtual Reality Be an Answer for Gambling Addiction?



Therapy and treatment is taking a new turn for compulsive and behavioral disorders like gambling addiction. Virtual reality is promising a world of possibilities for psychotherapeutic treatments. So far, the results are promising. For example, some research studies have found great success in using virtual reality to treat PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, in veterans. The immersive quality of virtual reality helps therapeutic clients experience their fears, traumas, and anxieties first hand, while being able to witness in real time their ability to transcend the situation and survive healthily. Sights, sounds, and sensations can all be triggering for addictions like gambling addiction. Virtual reality therapy helps create the environment and create a real time opportunity to use strategies for recovery.

According to Casino.org, virtual reality is already being researched for its efficacy in treating gambling addiction. “A team of researchers at the Cyberpsychology Laboratory at UniversitĂ© du QuĂ©bec en Outaouais, led by founder Stephane Bouchard, has been working on a program to use VR technology to help treat individuals displaying signs of gambling addiction.” Bouchard explains to Casino that virtual reality keeps patients in “a safe and ethical environment” where researchers or treatment practitioners can “replicate the craving that comes with addiction without subjecting the individuals to real-life scenarios related to their addictions.” It wouldn’t be ethical or safe for a treatment provider to take a gambling addict to a casino. Though exposure therapy can be successful, it can also be a serious trigger and lead to disastrous relapse. Virtual reality therapy offers all the benefits of exposure therapy without putting a client or patient into actual danger.

Being exposed to gambling environments and managing emotions is not the true point of the virtual reality therapy. Individuals can remain in treatment or therapy for many years and learn everything there is to know about their addiction. They can learn all of the tools for stress management, emotional regulation, and relapse prevention. It is practice which makes progress. The true test of recovery is putting principles into practice in order to progress. Though a gambling addict doesn’t have to return to the casino to prove their commitment to their recovery, they will encounter situations in life which might trigger them to participate in gambling activities. Virtual reality therapy helps prepare them for these moments as well as prove to them that they will be capable of handling them.


Gambling addiction can cause physical, psychological, and financial harm. If you are experiencing trouble with gambling addiction, treatment is available for you. Cottonwood Tucson offers critically acclaimed residential treatment programs for co-occurring disorders like Gambling addiction and dual diagnosis mental health or substance use disorders. For information on our programs, call us today at: (800) 877-4520

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