Background: New technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and video games hold promise to support and enhance individuals in addiction treatment and recovery. Quitting or decreasing cigarette or alcohol use can lead to significant health improvements for individuals, decreasing heart disease risk and cancer risks (for both nicotine and alcohol use), among others. However, remaining in recovery from use is a significant challenge for most individuals.
Objective: We developed and assessed the Take Control game, a partially immersive Kinect for Windows platform game that allows users to counter substance cues through active movements (hitting, kicking, etc).
Methods: Formative analysis during phase I and phase II guided development. We conducted a small wait-list control trial using a quasi-random sampling technique (systematic) with 61 participants in recovery from addiction to alcohol or tobacco. Participants used the game 3 times and reported on substance use, cravings, satisfaction with the game experience, self-efficacy related to recovery, and side effects from exposure to a virtual reality intervention and substance cues.
Results: Participants found the game engaging and fun and felt playing the game would support recovery efforts. On average, reported substance use decreased for participants during the intervention period. Participants in recovery for alcohol use saw more benefit than those in recovery for tobacco use, with a statistically significant increase in self-efficacy, attitude, and behavior during the intervention. Side effects from the use of a virtual reality intervention were minor and decreased over time; cravings and side effects also decreased during the study.
Conclusions: The preliminary results suggest the intervention holds promise as an adjunct to standard treatment for those in recovery, particularly from alcohol use.
JMIR Serious Games 2018;6(2):e7
Metcalf M, Rossie K, Stokes K, Tallman C, Tanner B. Virtual Reality Cue Refusal Video Game for Alcohol and Cigarette Recovery Support: Summative Study. JMIR Serious Games. 2018;6(2). doi:10.2196/games.9231.