Online substance abuse treatment allows for individuals to seek an addiction treatment solution without leaving their home. All therapy and treatment is done through their phone, computer or other virtual device.
The main way patients and providers communicate have always been through in-person, face-to-face interactions. And this has been the method clinicians have used to engage in substance abuse treatment and behavioral therapy. Although it has shown itself to be effective, telehealth offers a new vision in the range of treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs).
The Role of Telehealth in SUD Treatment
Telemedicine can remove the limits of distance and time. Therefore, it has the potential to reinforce people’s treatment and recovery from substance abuse. Virtual substance abuse treatment can improve a patient’s connection to services. By doing that, it provides important support when they are away from the medical office and trying to make decisions about using or abstaining from using an addictive substance. In-person contacts could then be limited to group sessions or scheduled appointment times.
So if you can’t go out, or don’t want to go out, for whatever reason, you are still able to receive treatment. In fact, studies show that telehealth has the possibility to change and improve the way substance use is rehabilitated and could reduce the number of people affected by the opioid epidemic we have in the U.S.
Removing the Limits
By putting telemedicine techniques into practice, we remove the limits of geography, time, and stigma. This will improve patient access to addiction treatment services. These are a few of the ways:
- Patients that live in rural areas can get addiction treatment services in their homes or the office of a local medical provider instead of needing to drive long distances.
- Patients can avoid the stigma of being recognized as a patient at an addiction treatment facility.
- Because counselors may not be available when the patient needs them most. This is typically outside the treatment structure. But telemedicine increases the counselor’s availability and provides timely support.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Substance Abuse Treatment
- Maintaining relationships–After a face-to-face relationship is established between patient and health care provider, telehealth can assist in maintaining the relationship.
- Easy access– Online substance abuse treatment provides easy access to healthcare providers for people who live in distant or remote areas. It also provides a way of communication and motivation.
- Continuous support–Telemedicine allows patients to stay on track and be reminded of their progress. Two of the main reasons for relapse are lack of support and being released from rehab too soon. Telehealth technology tackles both issues by offering continuous support through motivational chats and text messages. This improves program success rates and reduces the number of people affected by substance abuse overall.
- Quick communication–Telehealth allows patients to inform their providers about their condition quickly and easily. It’s easier to get a feel for the patient’s daily life and to act to take care of problems before they start.
- Chronic care–Since many addictions come from mental and physical health problems such as chronic physical pain and trauma. Telehealth is an effective method for any type of continual care. It acts to maintain the quality of care and stop severe conditions from having a bigger effect on the patients’ lives.
- Continuity of care–Telehealth can be used to encourage healthy behaviors. Continuity of care is made stronger by combining tracking and action. Patients see how treatment helps solve problems. Patients benefit from consistent communication and encouragement.
- Inappropriate–Telehealth might not be appropriate for some patients, especially those in high-risk or unstable living situations.
- Technical knowledge–It requires patients to have access to a smartphone with a data plan and some technical literacy.
- Privacy and security–Obtaining care from home may create added challenges for privacy and security and might not be the right location for some patients who need stability in treatment.
- Cost–Some patients may be required to pay out of pocket for telehealth services.
- MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment) therapy–It is still being studied, but there is no data showing that telehealth is making MAT therapy more effective.
Does Insurance Cover Virtual Substance Abuse Treatment?
In 2019, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), asked leaders in healthcare whether they would offer telehealth services. Thirty-five percent said “no,” 29% already offered it, 17% said they planned to, and 19% were not sure. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced providers and governmental agencies to reform medical customs and encourage telehealth services.
- State telehealth laws can be complicated and inconsistent around the country. But, all 50 states have some type of health insurance reimbursement for live video. Still, only 21 states have reimbursement for remote patient monitoring. Commercial coverage depends on state laws and how they use third-party vendors. However, telehealth policy at the state level is changing rapidly due to the pandemic.
- State Medicaid programs cover home-based telehealth through several options. Medicaid directs that home-based telehealth services meet the same standards for care as in-person visits. Medicaid also reimburses for services given through telehealth and in-person equally.
- Medicare does not usually cover online substance abuse treatment in the home but is starting to cover it in certain situations.
Virtual Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Approaches
- Telephone-based–This is the oldest approach to telehealth and it is already being used to give ongoing care for SUDs. Continuing care conveyed by phone is easy to put into practice and doesn’t require any extra costs such as licensing fees or patient training. Telephone monitoring, feedback, and counseling can all be delivered in telephone-based services. Researchers found that adding telephone continuing care to an intensive outpatient program (OIP) improved alcohol use outcomes as compared to IOP alone.
- Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technology–IVR is a step up from telephone-based technology. With IVR, an automated telephone system provides patients with pre-set questions and then gives different feedback and follow-up questions based on their answers. During the first studies of IVR, it was shown to reduce post-outpatient treatment drinking. This was true for those patients who had reached their treatment goals before discharge.
- Web-based treatment–Web-based services are available to many patients who can access them at their convenience. Several web-based apps are available and ready to use for SUD assessment. Most of the time, web-based telehealth services are useful for reducing alcohol use, mainly in student populations.
- Videoconferencing–Videoconferencing for psychiatric or addiction treatment is accomplished through secure portals on personal computers or dedicated telehealth consoles. Studies of videoconferencing for addiction treatment have found no difference in the results or patient satisfaction whether the care was by video or in person.
Telehealth IOP Services at Northbound Recovery
PRECAUTIONS AND CARE AMIDST COVID-19
At Northbound Recovery, both employee and client safety is priority number one. Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’re staying on top of best practices with the advice of the CDC, WHO, and DHCS (The California Department of Health Care Services) on a daily basis.
In taking precautions at our facilities, we’re currently not allowing any non-essential visitors unless approved prior to his or her visit. For the continued health and safety of our community, every client, healthcare provider, employee, vendor, and visitor must also have their temperature taken upon arrival to be cleared.
For our clients and on-site community, we have implemented two screenings for all incoming clients prior to admission. We screen current clients at all facilities for symptoms or potential exposures and are evaluated immediately as necessary.
Our doors are open and we are here for you. At Northbound, our mission has always been to transform lives and support those overcoming addiction, regardless of current affairs. Our commitment is to continue to do so during this challenging time. To that end, we’re currently using novel strategies for treatment. This includes telehealth service, online meetings, off-site client-only activities, and industry support and guidance webinars.
HOMEBOUND – TELEHEALTH OUTPATIENT SUPPORT SERVICES
At Northbound, we understand that addiction recovery is a journey that is both highly personal and ever-evolving. Our mission is to meet our clients exactly where they are in their personal journey and provide support at every step.
Northbound offers virtual substance abuse treatment through our HomeBound program. We support our clients in their addiction recovery from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Through advances in digital technology, we’ve developed novel telehealth treatment programs that recreate every aspect of our in-person care. Our online support program has been operating since January of 2016. Our facilitators and therapists are already well-versed in how to provide virtual care for our clients.
HomeBound provides support for both substance abuse and mental health disorders at the intensive outpatient (IOP), regular outpatient (OP), and support service program levels of care. Our outpatient treatment programs are an integral part of addiction recovery. As individuals receive continual guidance, motivation, and accountability from their care providers and treatment team. With telemedicine visits tailored to the real-life needs of each participant, this program helps clients build the skills and strategies necessary to live confidently in their recovery.
Benefits of Homebound
Whether you’ve never been to treatment before, have just completed residential treatment, or need further support following a relapse, we are here to help you in the journey to arrest your addiction. The HomeBound outpatient programs are an appropriate level of care for those who have a safe and sober living environment to reside in and those who, with support, are ready to live substance-free.
Our programs are designed to equip all those in outpatient treatment with the tools to develop a balanced, sustainable recovery lifestyle.
Through HomeBound, we offer the highest level of clinical services at the convenience of the client’s home. Participants enrolled in this program work with their personal care team to develop an individualized schedule that includes:
- Flexible scheduling
- Individual, group therapy, and psychoeducation
- Individual case management
- 12-Step engagement
- Psychiatric care as needed
- Optional concurrent participation in Northbound signature services, including Collegebound®, Careerbound®, our Music Therapy, or Trauma Program
Our compassionate team is composed of experts in the field and each one is here to guide clients through the full continuum of care. We integrate treatment of mental health disorders with addiction, as we recognize the interplay between them, and now are able to do so virtually with our online therapy. Our primary clinicians help clients discover the core issues that have impacted or perpetuated their addiction through individual counseling, education on the disease of addiction, engagement in a 12-Step Program, and various forms of mental health therapy.
A few members of our world-class team include:
Dr. Sunder, Medical Director, Board Certified, Addiction Specialist
Beth Durling, BA, CADC-II, ICADC, Clinical Director
Ryan Snodgrass, LMFT, APCC, Trauma Program & Family Program Coordinator
Barek Sharif, M.S., LMFT, Director of Clinical Supervision
Start Your Telehealth Journey Today
Interested in exploring virtual care for addiction treatment support? Enrolling in any of Northbound’s telehealth outpatient services is a simple process. All you need is a computer, phone, or tablet and our team can help get you set up on Zoom, an easy-to-follow video conferencing system.
Northbound Recovery has an experienced and caring professional staff. And their only job is to see that you or someone you care about gets the most out of treatment and the most out of life. Contact us today to learn more about our telemedicine options. Get set up with support from the ease & convenience of your own home.