If you’re in the early stage of recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), you’ve likely enrolled in continuing care activities. Continuing care includes various sources of ongoing support that help you during the initial stages of your sobriety.
One of the pillars of continuing care is outpatient therapy, where you chat with a licensed therapist or addiction counselor. These professionals assist you in navigating any challenges you may encounter in early recovery.
During the pandemic, in-person therapy sessions were no longer available, which reinforced the use of telehealth platforms. Not only did telehealth bridge the gap and provide a lifeline during that difficult period, but it turns out that many people actually prefer online therapy to in-person sessions.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth refers to any form of healthcare provided on a video conferencing platform. In the recovery field, an addiction or mental health professional uses a secure software to deliver outpatient therapy online, as opposed to the more traditional in-person sessions. Now that the pandemic restrictions have eased, telehealth no longer replaces in-person sessions, but instead offers patients an additional option for getting outpatient therapy.
These online sessions closely resemble an in-office session, with the same level of care and professionalism a patient would experience in person. Because telehealth can be accessed from anywhere, it can facilitate treatment for those who struggle with scheduling, fuel costs, traffic, travel and time constraints. It can even be accessed via a free public wi-fi connection.
How does telehealth support recovery?
Whenever a new source of recovery support becomes available, it is always beneficial to the individual in recovery. In recent years, technology has provided a range of new support options, including online recovery meetings, forums or chat rooms, recovery apps and now telehealth.
Telehealth offers three valuable benefits for individuals in recovery:
- Convenience: Telehealth allows the individual to access their treatment and support from the comfort of their home. This can be especially helpful for busy parents, students and professionals who find it much easier to follow through and receive clinical support from wherever works best for them.
- Reduces concerns around stigma: While the stigma associated with SUD has continued to decrease throughout the years, its presence still poses a barrier to treatment for some. Telehealth can offer a discreet and confidential way to receive support.
- Increased access to support: The more sources of recovery support available, the better. Telehealth offers individuals in substance abuse recovery another way to get the support they need.
Is telehealth as effective?
You may be wondering how effective telehealth therapy can be compared to in-person therapy sessions. A recent review of eight published studies revealed that addiction recovery telehealth sessions were just as effective in delivering needed guidance and support as in-person counseling sessions.
Telehealth counseling also helps support patients undergoing medication supported recovery (MSR) in rural areas who do not have easy access to mental health and substance recovery services. Pilot projects in Maryland, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada have demonstrated that MSR prescribed via telehealth support is both promising and cost effective.
With rising fuel costs, telehealth platforms may make the difference between an individual sustaining sobriety, or relapsing. With this cost efficient option now available as a supplemental aftercare option, individuals in recovery may be more likely to remain engaged in ongoing recovery efforts.
Due to the wide acceptance of telehealth services over the last two years, and its efficacy as an addiction recovery tool, it is safe to say that telehealth is here to stay.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.