Assessing reactivity to virtual reality alcohol based cues

Addict Behav. 2008 Jun;33(6):743-56. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.12.010. Epub 2008 Jan 2.


The use of virtual reality (VR) programs in behavioral science research has been gaining prominence over the past several years. In the field of substance abuse, VR cue reactivity programs have been successfully tested for feasibility in nicotine and cocaine dependent samples. Seeking to expand VR applications in alcohol cue research, a novel VR alcohol cue reactivity assessment system incorporating visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli was developed and tested. In a controlled trial, 40 non-treatment-seeking drinkers with alcohol use disorders were exposed to VR alcohol cue environments. Subjective craving, attention to alcohol cues, and level of presence (realism of experience) in VR were assessed across the environments. Overall, subjective craving for alcohol increased across the VR alcohol-related cue environments versus VR neutral cue environments. Participants reported high levels of presence in VR, indicating that the environments were perceived as realistic and compelling. These initial findings support the use of VR based cue reactivity environments for use in alcohol cue-based treatment and research.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smell
  • User-Computer Interface*