SMA Foundation collaborates with the Division of Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida and Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare, Daytona Beach, Florida. The research activities are conducted under the direction of Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., Professor and Chief, Division of Addiction Research , Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Florida.
Many areas of addiction need to be researched in order to be effective. This knowledge will ultimately be the way to help fight the disease. Until we can answer the questions “Why and how does it affect their bodies?”, "How does it affect families?" “How to treat it,” we cannot reach them. While there is no silver bullet for addiction, fully understanding the disease will help us find the best methods to treat it. Research can help in the process of rehabilitation and recovery to reduce relapse and is constantly making strides in order to know as much as possible.
Florida Substance Abuse Databank
The primary objective of this study is to collect epidemiological data from voluntary Florida inpatient and outpatient substance abusers. This information will allow examination of trends and patterns of drug and alcohol use among diverse treatment groups. This study engages voluntary adult clients from all Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare programs providing a broad range of subjects from a diverse demographic region. Data collection contributes to the epidemiological study of substance abuse and support studies examining neurocognitive and psychosocial function in treatment populations. Local benefits include the ability to identify factors that influence the occurrence, characteristics, associations, and distribution of substance abuse that are unique to the substance abuser in Northeast Central Florida. Data is gathered via a questionnaire administered in a group session or individually.
Do Special Programs Enhance Post Incarceration Adaptation?
The primary goal of this study is to provide preliminary data to determine whether the implementation of special programs has a positive effect in the recidivism rate of released inmates who have participated and completed the programs at Reality House, a program of Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare. The study consists of a comparison of outcome measurements between prisoners who completed both the treatment program and special programs vs. prisoners who completed only the treatment program. In this pilot study we focus on the Culinary Arts Program at Reality House.
- Collaboration with UCF’s Department of Psychology has been established to address PTSD research and treatment for veterans using Virtual Reality. This activity will start later this year.
- Two posters were presented at the 2012 RSA Scientific Meeting in San Francisco and at the 2012 APA Convention in Orlando. The titles of the posters are: “Contrasting Substance Use and Demographic Characteristics in Two Groups of Treatment Seeking Alcoholic Women” and “Different Women, Different Drugs” respectively.
- Collaboration with the University of Houston (UH). Dr. Patrick Bordnick a renowned Professor and Researcher at UH, has authored numerous publications addressing cue reactivity using VR. We are currently exploring an effort to augment his ongoing research using our VR system and SMA’s clients.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality (VR), a system of human–computer interaction that allows researchers and clinicians to immerse people in virtual worlds, is gaining considerable traction as a research, education, training, and treatment tool. VR has been used successfully to treat anxiety disorders such as fear of flying and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as an aid in stroke rehabilitation, and as a behavior modification aid in the treatment of attention deficit disorder.
Research using VR has shown that drug-dependent people react with strong craving to specific cues (e.g., cigarette packs, liquor bottles) as well as environments or settings (e.g., bar, party) associated with drug use. Virtual reality has also been used to enhance learning and generalization of relapse prevention skills by reinforcing these skills in lifelike environments.
Ref: J Diabetes Sci Technol 2011;5(2):265-271
Our Research Center presently has a VR system that contains over 20 virtual worlds. For substance abuse, we have virtual worlds that depict alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine and nicotine. For PTSD, we have virtual worlds that include Afghanistan, Iraq,and Vietnam. In addition, we have relaxation and meditation worlds. Later this year, we will be using VR for research and as a tool to augment evidence-based treatments for recovery training. We are starting to conduct training sessions for clinicians on how to use the VR system. For more information on our VR programs, please click here.