It’s Time to Take Telehealth for Addiction Seriously

Telehealth services boomed in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Telehealth services have had the reputation of being second-best to in-person treatment. But now, it’s getting more attention as a legitimate treatment format. It’s time to take telehealth addiction treatment seriously.    Let’s explore how it can reach more people needing addiction treatment now and in the future.   

Telehealth addiction treatment works

Telehealth treatment can meet some needs that traditional IOP may miss. Here’s more about how telehealth can reach people in unique ways.  

Telehealth treatment: Bridging a service gap   

Telehealth and traditional IOP have similar benefits. They’re both flexible, trustworthy and based on research. Most IOP programs have only been offered in person. People who want or need something else may be out of luck.  When the pandemic hit in 2020, clinics with telehealth options made a quick pivot. They stayed in touch with people working through treatment. With the pandemic waning in 2021, telehealth can still make an impact.   

Hybrid services: In-person and online addiction recovery 

With the growing use of telehealth services, clinics can expand the reach of their IOP services. Telehealth works with individual, group, and family therapy. It can be used alone or with in-person programs. Some people respond better to in-person environments, and others may need the flexibility of telehealth. Hybrid treatment programs can blend the benefits of both approaches.  Web-based treatment is another solution on the horizon. This approach could provide therapeutic support where there are fewer treatment clinics. A research study looked more closely at a specific web-based content program. The study showed it was almost as effective as live therapy, meaning online programs may hold promise as a hybrid IOP service.  

Telehealth works around barriers to treatment

Some people face barriers when trying to start addiction treatment. Here’s more about some common issues and how telehealth for addiction treatment can help.  

Limited treatment options in rural areas

Rural areas often include smaller communities spread many miles apart. These towns and cities may not be large enough to support an IOP program. With telehealth, a person can access the treatment they need from home or private clinical space.  

Unreliable transportation

Traveling takes time and can become expensive. It can be an issue, even for an affordable treatment like IOP. What happens when a car has problems, or there’s no money for gas? Treatment gets interrupted.  Some people needing treatment have had their driver’s license suspended or don’t have access to a car. Relying on others for transportation can be difficult, too. Telehealth can overcome this issue by bringing treatment to them.  

Not comfortable around others 

Group therapy is a staple of IOP treatment. The group dynamic provides support and accountability. People learn that others struggle with recovery, too.  But some may have health concerns or don’t like being in large groups; telehealth can include individuals with these concerns. They get the benefits of the group setting without being there in person.  

Needs affordable treatment

Cost is often a concern when looking into substance use treatment. It can prevent a person from getting help, especially those with limited income. IOP treatment is more affordable than many might realize. Using telehealth can help by taking away travel costs. Online recovery could also minimize lost work hours from travel.   

Telehealth for addiction: Real solutions for treatment gaps

Telehealth hasn’t always been taken seriously in addiction treatment. But since the pandemic, more treatment clinics have explored using telehealth services. Telehealth may finally emerge as a much-needed solution for better access.    If you or someone you care about needs help, learn more about outpatient addiction treatment programs here.

Contact the P.A.T.H. program here at 713-528-3709 for more information.

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