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Does simulated alcohol exposure through virtual reality cue-exposure therapy decrease state levels of alcohol craving and anxiety in patients with alcohol use disorder?

Bernhard, J.P. (2021) Does simulated alcohol exposure through virtual reality cue-exposure therapy decrease state levels of alcohol craving and anxiety in patients with alcohol use disorder?

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Abstract:Background: Excessive alcohol consumption is widespread around the world. Regarding addiction, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a mental health concern that can have many implications. Craving and anxiety are two commonly experienced symptoms of people who have AUD. While cue-exposure therapy (CET) is a recognized concept to treat those symptoms, in regards to alcohol, findings of its effectiveness are not consistent. Here, the use of virtual reality (VR) can aid to enhance people’s presence and immersion into several situations. This is called VR-CET. It was assumed that craving and anxiety levels of participants decreased over time. Moreover, a correlation between the variables was expected at both time points. Hence, the study tries to fill the literature gap by focusing on the effects on craving and anxiety after VR-CET treatment with the novel ALCO-VR application. Methods: 21 patients from the Addictive Behavior Unit of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain were recruited by the lead psychologist. Participants were attending an initial assessment, six VR-CET sessions, and an assessment three days after the last therapy session. Baseline and posttest measures of craving and anxiety were assessed. Results: Analysis revealed a significant reduction in state anxiety and state-alcohol craving after treatment with the ALCO-VR application. Moreover, anxiety and craving were positively correlating at baseline and post-VR-CET sessions. Conclusion: Overall, the current study contributes to the ongoing research on the effectiveness of the ALCO-VR software by showing a reduction in participant’s craving and anxiety levels. Due to prolonged exposure to several alcohol-related contexts and beverages, participants were able to reduce their state-alcohol craving and state anxiety after the sessions. Therefore, symptoms of AUD were successfully targeted through the training. This indicates that participants may be able to remain abstinent.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/87797
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