IU researcher creates virtual reality experiences to aid substance use disorder recovery

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Indiana University on 10/19/2022

Indiana University researchers are combining psychological principles with innovative virtual reality technology to create a new immersive therapy for people with substance use disorders. They’ve recently received over $4.9 million from the National Institutes of Health and launched an IU-affiliated startup company to test and further develop the technology.

Led by Brandon Oberlin, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine, IU researchers have built a virtual environment using “future-self avatars” to help people recover from substance use disorders. These avatars are life-sized, fully animated and nearly photo realistic. People can converse with their avatars, who speak in their same voice using personal details in alternate futures.