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Vanderbilt Grad Student Using Virtual Reality To Treat Addicts, Combat Opioid Epidemic


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Can virtual therapy help addicts in the real world? A Vanderbilt graduate student thinks so.

Clinical psychology doctorate student Noah Robinson said stepping away from the real world can help addicts who have been struggling with opioids and other addictive drugs to move towards healing.

He was working at an in-patient facility called JourneyPure when he started to think about VR as a preventative tool.

Robinson said leaving negative emotions patients carry in the real world and traveling instead to the beach or the moon can give them a safe place to talk.

“It’s not isolating. It’s actually connecting. Virtual reality is bringing people into a world where other people with other headsets are also logged in via the internet so they’re in the same room it’s kind of like a chat room but you can see all of their behaviors and emotions and they cannot feel like you’re close to them,” he said.

Robert Grajewski is the Executive Director of the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University. He said when Robinson approached him with the idea, they were happy to help.

“It only makes sense that new solutions will involve [VR] technology,” he said.

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