Applications of virtual reality and eye-tracking technologies in substance use disorders: the ALCO-VR project
Attentional bias (AB) and alcohol craving are heavily involved in the development and maintenance of alcohol drinking patterns and may facilitate relapse even after many years of abstinence. To address the recent interest in novel technologies applied in the assessment and treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD), the “ALCO-VR” project aims to develop a Virtual Reality-Cue Exposure Therapy (VR-CET) for resistant to treatment AUD patients. The “ALCO-VR” projects consists of four studies. The first study aims to identify significant cues and contexts (triggers) that elicit alcohol craving in patients diagnosed with AUD. The second second study focuses on the development and validation of an AB assessment task based on the Eye-Tracking technology. The objectives of the third study is to develop and validate a VR software in patients with AUD (named “ALCO-VR”) consisting of VR alcohol-related environments. The last study of the project consists of a clinical trial to explore the efficacy of VRET vs. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in patients diagnosed with severe AUD who made several failed attempts to cease alcohol drinking. The four studies are independent, but related to each other. The results of the first study are implemented in the third study in the development of the “ALCO-VR” software. The AB outcomes of the second study are implemented in the fourth study as a variable of efficacy of the VRET vs. CBT. The project is conducted at two sites: VR-Psy Lab, University of Barcelona and Addictive Behaviors Unit, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. The first two studies are concluded and the third and fourth studies are ongoing studies and results will be available early 2019.