While there are plenty of exploratory methods regarding addiction treatment, one of the more unusual one comes in the form of using video games to treat heroin addiction.
In order to help people achieve sobriety, a new “game” geared towards recreating situations that trigger cravings for nicotine, alcohol, weed, and heroin has been built by the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work. The goal of the game is to make addicts crave the drugs and then choose not to do them.
According to Patrick Bordnick, the lab’s director and founder, “video games create fantasy, but in my lab, it’s reality. We have to make it real. The drink can’t look like some drink that you’d see in World of Warcraft or something like that. An alcohol dependent person knows their drink and what it looks like. If it’s not the right colour, if it doesn’t look like a real whisky, that’s not gonna make that situation applicable to them.”
Initially, the lab created games that were geared towards treating less intimidating drugs; such as nicotine. Since the trials for the cigarette smoking game were such a great success, the lab has now decided to shift their focus towards tackling more intense drugs, like heroin. The game will include recreating life-like scenes and situations that addicts may have faced, including recreating how people ‘shoot up’.
Bordnick explains that, “we did extensive work from research in our center with people who are heroin dependent, and our field workers have been out into the places where people use in order to recreate the exact situation.”
In addition to creating a video game, the lab is also taking a stab at creating an app for the game so that people can play it anywhere, anytime. If successful, the game could prove revolutionary for treatment centers, addiction treatment, and for those who are battling with maintaining their sobriety.