Effectiveness of Cue-Exposure Therapy on Alcohol Craving in Virtual Environment: Based on habit loop

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran

2 Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch, Tabriz, Iran

10.22122/ahj.2022.91926

Abstract

Background: In the treatment and abstinence of alcoholism, especially in abstinence after treatment, 
"Craving" has an essential role. Thus, our aim was to examine the effect of cue-exposure therapy on alcohol 
craving in virtual environment based on the habit loop.

Methods: The present investigation was a case-control experimental study with a pretest–posttest–5 weeks 
follow–up design. Research population were alcohol-addicted people hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. 
We had 62 subjects who had abstained from alcohol consumption. The sampling method was convenience 
sampling and the sample allocation was randomized and matched. The intervention was VR-CET that was 
implemented in eight sessions. Penn Alcohol Craving Scale, Alcohol Urge Questionnaire, and ObsessiveCompulsive Drinking Scale were used to collect the data. In order to analyze the data, analysis of covariance 
(ANCOVA) in SPSS V.23 was performed.

Findings: Our results showed that after implementation of VR-CET program the rate of PACS reduced 
significantly in posttest stage (p = 0.01) and follow up stage (p= 0.05). Also, the rate of AUQ and OCDS after 
exposure to VR-CET program declined significantly. The significant level of AUQ and OCDS in posttest and 
follow up stages were set at p- value < 0.01 and p-value <0.05 respectively.

Conclusion: VR-CET program can reduce alcohol craving by paying attention to various cues and contexts. In 
fact, it would be more beneficial if the treatment environment resembles a conditioned context and contains 
as many related cues as possible.

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