Virtual-reality worlds filled with penguins and otters are a promising alternative to painkillers

Over the last few decades, US doctors have tackled constant pain problems by prescribing ever-higher levels of opioid painkillers—drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, which belong to the same chemical family as morphine and heroin. These medications have turned out to be less effective for treating chronic pain than thought – and far more addictive. The surge in prescriptions has fed spiraling levels of opioid abuse and tens of thousands of overdose deaths.

Efforts to curb opioid prescriptions and abuse are starting to work. But with the spectacular failure of a drug-centric approach to treating chronic pain, doctors desperately need alternative ways to fight a condition that blights millions of lives. Jones is trying one, seemingly unlikely technological solution: virtual reality.

Read more at Quartz.

Image courtesy of Quartz.

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