Hallelujah for technology! During the pandemic nothing has played a bigger role in surviving the upheaval in daily life than digital telehealth services. For individuals in recovery, platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts have allowed people to remain connected to key support services at a time when in-person services were temporarily shelved.
As we move into fall and winter, there is always the chance that new upticks in COVID-19 may cause fresh disruptions. If that happens, telehealth services will again prove essential in helping people maintain sobriety during a most challenging chapter in history. Even if we do somehow dodge the next wave, telehealth is definitely here to stay, adding an additional recovery support option for many moving forward.
What is Telehealth?
One of the most important developments this year has been the emergence of telemedicine as a viable option for securing medical evaluation and guidance. This phenomenon quickly grew to include the mental health and substance recovery fields and has been a game changer during 2020 for those seeking support at such a vulnerable time.
Telehealth is a form of delivering medical and psychological services from a distance versus receiving these services in person. In the recovery field, services can include basic outpatient services, such as one-on-one therapy sessions, and intensive outpatient programming that includes several hours of group sessions and classes weekly.
When physical distancing policies resulted in the loss of in-person A.A. and other recovery community meetings, these same platforms were quickly adopted to provide critical support resources through online communities. As with telehealth, online recovery meetings have helped many to remain connected to their support networks.
Telehealth Benefits in Recovery
While telehealth services may not be the ideal situation for people in recovery, these teleconferencing platforms can literally be lifesavers. Connection is so incredibly important in recovery, and telehealth options offer the ability to connect virtually when live settings are unavailable. Here are some of the many telehealth benefits:
- Access to online psychotherapy. Mental health has been significantly impacted during the pandemic, and this can be very dangerous for individuals in recovery—especially those with a co-occurring mental health issue. Having easy access to a licensed therapist and dual diagnosis recovery professionals has allowed people to receive timely support and guidance when they are struggling.
- Access to online recovery communities. At a time when there is much uncertainty about the safety of gatherings, online recovery groups hosted by A.A., N.A., SMART Recovery, and others has filled the void. There are abundant meeting options available at just about any time of day.
- Help for those who fear stigma. The advent of telehealth substance recovery services has allowed individuals who otherwise might avoid getting help to access outpatient treatment programs online. By accessing help in the privacy of their home, the fear of stigma as a barrier to treatment is removed.
- Convenience of in-home access. As our society continues to shift toward working at home, this virtual trend is likely to continue long after the pandemic is over. People are enjoying the convenience of receiving goods and services online versus driving to a location to obtain them. This preference for convenience also translates to the recovery and mental health telehealth services.
To have so many reliable sources of recovery support available, when or if we are isolating at home, is an amazing example of American adaptability. While we may have to remain flexible in the months ahead, finding fellowship and professional guidance amid the uncertainty of our times via telehealth services is a gift. Participating in online recovery communities and group therapy sessions offers much more than just social interaction. These virtual platforms are an invaluable source of recovery care, accountability, and inspiration.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.