Treatment Professional - Trends and Statistics - Addiction Recovery

How Does Telehealth Addiction Treatment Work?

Telehealth can treat substance use disorders for people who don’t have access to traditional care. Learn more about telehealth in our blog!

How Does Telehealth Addiction Treatment Work?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 14, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Telehealth has become widely popular after the COVID-19 pandemic. When you could not leave your home, you may have turned to your phone and computer to access needed mental health services. Studies show that just as telehealth is effective for treating mental health conditions, it is also effective in treating substance use disorders (SUDs).

What Is Telehealth?

In the case of treating SUDs, telehealth works as an outpatient treatment program. You will be connected with a provider online that will monitor your progress and, depending on the program, might mail medications to help you with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, you will have the ability to meet with counselors to assist with stress and anxiety while you are recovering. 

Does Telehealth Work? 

Although telehealth is relatively new, recent studies have shown that telehealth is associated with positive outcomes and improved treatment retention, especially when other traditional treatment options are not accessible.

For example, opioid use disorder was treated in Maryland by providing telehealth treatment, including buprenorphine, to three hundred Marylanders who did not have access to a traditional treatment facility. After three months of this initiative, 59% of patients remained in treatment, and of those, 94% were no longer using opioids.

Additionally, a review of in-patient and telehealth programs that use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings for those struggling with SUDs showed promising outcomes for patients in each group. The review gauged treatment retention and the ability of patients to abstain.

It found that there were no significant differences in the effectiveness of in-person and telehealth treatment.

Is Telehealth a Good Fit for Me? 

When you are seeking treatment for a SUD, it is essential to make sure you pick a program that fits your needs, schedule, and values. The following four factors may indicate that telehealth is a good option for you.

#1. You Do Not Have Access to a Traditional Facility

Telemental health is an excellent option if you do not have access to inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities. If you live in a rural area and cannot travel long distances to see a provider, telehealth may be a good fit for you. This factor is especially important if you cannot afford to relocate to inpatient treatment in another town or state. Telemental health is a cheaper option that will allow you to stay home and effectively treat you for your SUD.

#2. You Have a Good Internet Connection

Telehealth can only work if you have a secure internet connection. Additionally, you will need access to a working phone or computer that will allow you to meet with your provider, and you will need a basic understanding of how to use the technology. If you do not have a secure internet connection but cannot travel to an in-person facility, there are other options. If there is a local library near you with a private area that offers free wi-fi, telehealth may still work for you.

#3. You Have a Place That Is Private and Safe

When engaging in telehealth, you will be talking about private and personal information. You must have a place where you feel comfortable and safe talking honestly about your SUD and any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression you may be dealing with.

If you do not have a private place, or if your household is unsafe, you can attempt to find a place that offers free wi-fi and work with the owners to create a private space for you. If you cannot find a private space, telemental health will likely not be a good option for you. 

#4. You Have a Busy Schedule

You may live in an area with access to in-person treatment centers. Although, you may also have a hectic schedule that would make traveling to an in-person facility nearly impossible. Being able to seek treatment on your schedule through telehealth makes staying in treatment more accessible and more manageable.

If you have a mild to moderate SUD, you may benefit from this flexible, part-time approach. If you have a severe SUD, however, you will likely need to take a break from your outside responsibilities to focus on treatment and healing.

How Do I Find a Reputable Telehealth Provider? 

Ensuring you find a provider who is qualified to treat your SUD is crucial to receiving quality care that can help you make a full and sustainable recovery. One of the easiest ways to find a qualified telehealth provider is through your insurance. 

If you do not have insurance, there are still qualified options available. When searching for a telehealth provider, you will want to make sure they are credentialed to treat SUDs and mental health conditions. Additionally, you will want to check that the telehealth provider you are considering has experience treating the specific SUD and mental health conditions you are experiencing.

The Forge Recovery Center Provides Expert Substance Abuse Treatment

At The Forge Recovery Center, we know that recovering from a substance abuse disorder is a process that takes a great deal of guidance and support. We also understand that traditional treatment options may not be available or realistic for some people.

The Forge’s team of qualified and experienced mental health professionals are experts at helping people determine and locate the best treatment options for them. If you or a loved one is struggling with a SUD, we are here to help.

If you have questions about treatment options, including telehealth, we are happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. For more information, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

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