Can VR Poker Cure Gambling Addiction?


VR poker is an increasingly popular way for people to experience virtual reality poker. Players can compete against each other or just practice with friends in real-time; some games even provide haptic feedback for an enhanced realism experience. If you suspect a gambling disorder exists, seek advice from mental health counselor or psychiatrist immediately – symptoms of addiction include an urge to gamble even when losing money, investing a significant amount of time and energy into gambling activities, and being unable to stop even when your bank account becomes in the red.

Researchers recently conducted a new study using virtual reality (VR) to induce gambling cravings among gamblers and then compared those cravings with both real gambling and a control game of skill without money involved. Their researchers discovered that VR cravings were significantly stronger than infrequent gamblers’, matching up closely to feelings associated with playing an actual video lottery terminal – suggesting it can be an effective tool in combating pathological gambling while possibly providing an alternative treatment protocol than conventional CBT therapy protocols.

Owing to an ever-increasing number of companies creating virtual reality poker games, few have tested these titles on pathological gamblers. According to one recent study, pathological gamblers tend to have lower than normal electrical activity levels in an area of the brain responsible for impulse control and suppressing urges – this suggests virtual reality gaming may help pathological gamblers overcome their problem by targeting this neurobiological dysfunction.

This study was published in PLOS ONE journal. Experts in addiction treatment collaborated in creating this project, which involved three independent studies: Study 1 investigated how virtual reality (VR) could trigger cravings among gamblers; Study 2 tested whether combining VR with CBT reduced gambling urges; and finally Study 3 assessed safety of four VR sessions as part of GD’s Relapse Prevention Therapy Program. All participants in these studies were volunteers and signed informed consent forms that abided by UQO’s Guidelines for ethical conduct in human research. Results from all three studies demonstrated that VR can be an effective treatment tool for treating Generalized Anxiety, with four VR sessions used instead of conventional therapy yielding success rates between 50-56% with moderate effect sizes and safe integration into an 28-day CBT program for GD.

Compulsive gambling is the most severe form of gambling disorder and can have serious financial and psychological repercussions. A psychiatric evaluation will help identify whether you have this condition; cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can often be the ideal treatment. With CBT you will learn to identify triggers of addiction, cope with cravings and relapses more successfully and develop healthier coping strategies; additionally medication may be taken to ease anxiety depression and other co-occurring disorders as well as aid you in controlling spending habits.

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