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Researchers at Duke University are using virtual gaming technology to treat substance abuse in veterans. Through a computer-generated environment, they are testing former soldiers with temptations, including alcohol and drugs.

The soldiers being treated at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina have post-traumatic stress syndrome, WRAL reports. The virtual reality world they inhabit is designed to look like parts of Durham.

The program trains veterans’ minds not to respond to cravings when they are faced with temptations such as alcohol or drugs.

The experience can be tailored to individuals, according to the news report.

Veterans participating in the research receive cellphone calls several times daily that transmit a tone to remind them about the steps they have learned to deal with their cravings.

“So once the cravings go down, there’s sort of this magic moment where learning has occurred,” researcher Zach Rosenthal said. “We think the brain is learning that, even if they are exposed to substance-related clues, they don’t actually have to use [drugs or alcohol].”


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