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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 5, 2014

Using virtual environments for trigger identification in addiction treatment

  • Liam North , Chris Robinson , Adrian Haffegee , Paul M. Sharkey and Faustina Hwang EMAIL logo


This paper presents a novel application of virtual environments to assist in encouraging behavior change in individuals who misuse drugs or alcohol. We describe the user-centered design of a series of scenes to engage users in the identification of triggers and to encourage discussions about relevant coping skills. Results from the initial testing of this application with six service users showed variation in user responses. Results also suggested that the system should encourage group discussion and that it was linked to a small improvement in users’ confidence in understanding and identifying triggers.

Corresponding author: Faustina Hwang, School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AY, UK, E-mail:


We thank all the Swanswell staff and service users who have contributed to the design, development, and testing of the application. We would also like to thank the UK Technology Strategy Board’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme for facilitating and funding this work.


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Received: 2013-5-12
Accepted: 2013-7-3
Published Online: 2014-8-5
Published in Print: 2014-9-1

©2014 by De Gruyter

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