Virtual & Telehealth Options Are Innovative Approaches to Local Addiction Treatment
The amount of individuals experiencing addiction or substance use disorders continues to climb throughout the United States. In 2020, approximately 37.3 million individuals reported that they engaged in the use of a substance that year. (1) The next year, 61.2 million individuals, ages 11 or older, reported that they engaged in the use of a substance. (2) In 2022, approximately 20.4 million individuals met the diagnostic criteria and were diagnosed with a substance use disorder. (3) Of those diagnosed with a substance use disorder, less than 10 percent received treatment. (4)
Here at New Pathway Counseling, we believe that there are some innovative local addiction treatment options, such as virtual and telehealth services, that can help increase the amount of individuals that receive treatment. Offering evidence-based services, here at New Pathway Counseling, we believe that access to comprehensive treatment can help reduce the amount of individuals negatively impacted by substance use. In addition to local addiction recovery options for adults, we offer treatment services for adolescents ages 12 to 18. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment philosophy and to begin your pathway to recovery.
The Rise of Telehealth in Addiction Treatment
Telehealth is a relatively new treatment option. During COVID-19, providers specializing in substance use treatment quickly begin offering services via telehealth. Before COVID-19, only about 27 percent of substance use treatment facilities offered telehealth services. (5) During this time, only 0.1 percent of substance use treatment visits were conducted via telehealth. (6) New research has found that the use of telehealth can increase the engagement of those seeking addiction treatment. (7)
Benefits of Virtual Addiction Treatment
One of the main benefits of virtual addiction treatment is being able to access therapeutic services in the comfort of your own home. In online therapy services, individuals receive the same quality of care that they would receive during an in-person session. Depending on an individual’s everyday responsibilities and obligations, they may not be able to attend in-person sessions regularly. The utilization of virtual addiction treatment can help minimize treatment barriers, or obstacles that interfere with an individual receiving or completing treatment. Virtual addiction treatment benefits individuals positively and minimizes barriers by providing them with accessibility, affordability, and privacy.
Virtual and telehealth substance use treatment provides individuals with accessibility. Virtual addiction treatment helps remove barriers for those who possess disabilities, live far from a treatment center, or for those who do not have access to transportation or child care. Virtual services can be attended anywhere with internet access when receiving addiction treatment virtually.
One of the main reasons why individuals do not seek addiction treatment is because of the cost. Similarly to in-person treatment options, telehealth treatment can be covered by health insurance, depending on the specific coverage plan. Here at New Pathway Counseling, we can offer you a free, no obligation insurance benefits check to help you determine exactly which of our treatment options are covered by your health insurance provider.
In order to receive treatment services, individuals need a safe space to be able to speak freely and privately. Virtual addiction treatment utilizes programs and softwares that help ensure each individual’s privacy rights.
Challenges & Limitations of Virtual Addiction Treatment
Though online and virtual addiction treatment can be convenient for certain individuals, there are some disadvantages and limitations associated with telehealth.
Technological issues can make virtual addiction treatment challenging. Having a poor or unstable internet connection can make it difficult to hear or see during a telehealth session. Additionally, some technological awareness is needed in order for virtual sessions to be effective.
Technological components needed for virtual addiction treatment include:
- A stable internet connection.
- A computer, smartphone, or tablet.
- A camera.
- A microphone.
- A speaker.
Depending on the exact symptoms that the patient is experiencing, telehealth may not be the most beneficial treatment option. For those experiencing severe addiction or complex symptoms, online therapy may not be recommended unless other in-person treatments are included in the treatment plan. Some individuals may need to complete higher levels of care, such as detoxification or residential inpatient, before virtual addiction treatment is provided.
Efficacy of Telehealth & Virtual Addiction Treatment
As telehealth continues to gain more popularity, research on its efficacy increases. Efficacy refers to the ability to produce desired results. In regards to virtual addiction treatment, helping individuals develop evidence-based tools, while maintaining ethical and legal responsibilities is the desired result.
Is Virtual & Telehealth Addiction Treatment as Effective as In-Person Treatment?
Research has found that teleheath treatment is as effective, but not more effective than in-person treatment. (8) Though additional research is needed in order to continue to monitor the effectiveness of virtual and telehealth addiction treatment.
Virtual Recovery Support Groups as Alternatives to In-person 12-Step Meetings
In addition to virtual addiction treatment, there are some online virtual support group options. Many 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (9) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have virtual meetings, making it convenient for individuals to attend. (10)
Virtual recovery support group options include:
Online Support Tools for Addiction Treatment
There are various online support tools that can be utilized during addiction treatment. Videos, pamphlets, and guides are available to help maximize the recovery process for those seeking treatment. Many treatment centers that provide virtual and telehealth options provide online support tools once you begin treatment.
Online support tools for addiction treatment:
Legal & Regulatory Considerations of Telehealth in Addiction Treatment
There are legal and ethical rules that must be followed when a provider is giving telehealth services.
In order to practice or provide telehealth services, each clinician must be licensed through their state agency. In addition to licensing requirements, continuing education classes regarding telehealth services must be attended annually.
Maintaining confidentiality is mandatory for all clinicians and providers. If you or a loved one are attending virtual addiction treatment services, a secured link will be provided in order to make sure that all things discussed remain confidential.
In order to make sure that security is maintained, certain online platforms must be used when providing telehealth services. Your provider will discuss with you any security requirements that must be met throughout the addiction recovery process.
Our Simple Admissions Process
If you suspect that you or someone you know are experiencing a substance use disorder, seeking addiction treatment can help with the development of the healthy tools needed for sobriety. Here at New Pathway Counseling, we offer virtual and telehealth treatment options for those experiencing addiction and dependency to a substance. Utilizing the 12-steps and SOARFIT model, we can provide you or your loved one with adaptive coping techniques needed to reach long-term sobriety. Contact us today to get started on the pathway to recovery.