Ease your anxiety while in addiction treatment with virtual reality (VR) technology
In addition to your drug and alcohol problem, do you also suffer from anxiety? You are not alone. In fact, it is not uncommon for people suffering from addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), also to struggle with mental health disorders like anxiety.
People suffering from SUD are twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders. Plus, recent research has found that nearly half of those who experience a mental health disorder also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.
Marked by persistent unease, difficulty in social situations and sleeplessness, in the grip of anxiety you might find yourself abusing alcohol, marijuana, opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers, in response.
As you struggle with anxiety, tension and stress in general, you might also experience them at the beginning of our addiction treatment as you go through detox and withdrawal. The physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal and the discomfort of detox can bring increased agitation, restlessness, feelings of being overwhelmed, as well as impulsivity, which may create the urge to leave treatment in the early stages.
Introducing Virtual Reality Technology
At Recovery Centers of America (RCA), we know how excruciating struggle with addiction and anxiety can be. But there is hope, and combined care for each is available. In partnership with Johns Hopkins University, Recovery Centers of America at Bracebridge Hall and at Capital Region now offer experimental Virtual Reality (VR) technology as a way to enhance your treatment of addiction and anxiety, both to help you overcome the difficulty of the early stages of treatment and to fortify your recovery going forward.
What is virtual reality technology?
Virtual reality technology is a treatment enhancement service designed to address your addiction as it co-occurs with your anxiety. The VR is an immersive, interactive therapeutic tool, used to teach ways of decreasing the anxious response and teach healthy ways that a person may ease their anxiety through meditation, breath work, and other evidence-based strategies.
How does virtual reality technology work?
Overseen by your individual therapist over the course of six sessions, you will first determine the form and level of your anxiety by answering a series of questions. Your responses establish an initial level for your experience of anxiety. The VR software will then create a simulated environment for your VR experience based on your score. You will then be immersed in a visual and auditory virtual environment, where you can select a setting that is most comforting to you. The goal is to allow you to learn different strategies for quickly and effectively decreasing your stress and experiencing calm. Within the context of the treatment program, you will work with your therapist to apply these strategies to your daily life and associated stressors. Over the course of the eight sessions, you will observe an overall decrease in your stress levels, realize the ability to identify when you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, and more quickly be able to regulate your emotions and reactions. In between sessions, you can practice the coping strategies you have learned.
While using our virtual reality technology, you will benefit from
- Joint treatment of addiction and anxiety, which may prevent the one from triggering or worsening the other
- Possible boost to early treatment results by easing symptoms of irritability, agitation and pain
- Drug-free approach
- Possible greater ability to be mindful of triggers and how to cope with them
- Possible enhanced ability to effectively manage emotions
- Possible increased ability to have control over symptoms of anxiety and stress
- No extra cost
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you enter treatment with a Recovery Centers of America facility for drug and alcohol treatment, our team will determine whether you experience symptoms of stress and anxiety. If so, the treatment will be automatically recommended for you. While the treatment is primarily to address these symptoms, any patient can elect to try this new treatment technology as a means of decreasing stress and increasing coping.
There is no extra cost to VR treatment-enhancement. It is part of the bundled care package you receive in an RCA inpatient facility, along with other offerings like talk therapy, fitness and yoga, among others.
No. This treatment is included as a part of substance use treatment at RCA and is not offered separately. This program is used with patients admitted to RCA for substance use disorder treatment who are also experiencing anxiety.