Meri Brick|2/17/2022|3 min read

How Telehealth Is Supporting Addiction Treatment

Over 40 million Americans, 14.5% of the population, had a substance use disorder during 2020


According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 40 million Americans, 14.5% of the population, had a substance use disorder during 2020 and that number is steadily increasing. With more and more Americans struggling with addiction and other substance use disorders, the need for additional tools to care for these patients is bigger than ever.

Great news! Virtual care has come in to save the day. In this blog, we are going to cover how telehealth is helping treat substance addiction and the many new benefits it brings to the specialty. Ready to dive in? Here we go!

Treating substance use disorders with telehealth

First, let’s get into what substance use disorders are. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a substance use disorder (SUD) is “a mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to a person’s inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications.” Addiction is the most common and severe form of SUDs.

Symptoms of substance use disorder include:

  • Drop-in attendance and performance in daily duties, including school and work

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude

  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain

  • Sudden change in friends, go-to hangout locations and hobbies

  • Unexplained need for money or financial troubles

The use of telehealth technology to treat substance use disorders has been a game-changer for patients and providers. There are many different ways that telemedicine is used in the space and have proven to be very successful in treating patients struggling with addiction.

The four most common telehealth services used in SUD treatment:

  • Virtual assessments

  • Telephone recovery support

  • Telephone therapy

  • Video-based therapy

Telehealth grew and became more widely used at the perfect time. Adding telemedicine as an additional tool for patients to receive and providers to give care has brought many benefits. So, without further ado, let’s get into them!

The benefits

The benefits that telehealth brings to addiction treatment are unbeatable, why else would this be such a growing field and buzzed-about topic in the healthcare industry? Let’s dive into those benefits and what it means for patients!

Easier for patients to get the help they need

Many patients who struggle with addiction find it difficult to talk about and get the help they need. Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to take that first step.

You may be asking ‘why?’ Opening up and being vulnerable about topics is hard and doing it in-person is even harder for most people. Telehealth gives patients a sense of safety by allowing them to take the appointment in the comfort of their own homes. It also allows them to ease into getting help by doing it virtually first and then transitioning into in-person care if needed.

Increases access for patients with a busy schedule

There are many reasons that stop patients with substance use disorders from getting help. Some aren’t ready and some don’t have the time to travel to and from appointments due to a busy work schedule, transportation barriers or child care. Virtual care helps to alleviate these pain points.

Online addiction therapy is a great alternative for these patients and allows them to find time in their schedule to receive care without the need to maneuver all of the barriers mentioned above!

Helps ease the stigma revolving around substance use disorders

One of the main reasons that prevent patients from seeking treatment for their addiction is the stigma surrounding substance use disorders. Telemedicine can help ease that stigma lingering over patients' heads and make them feel more comfortable seeking out treatment.

Virtual care has allowed patients to seek treatment without having to worry about being stigmatized for getting the help they need.

Telemedicine is just as effective as in-person treatment

Studies have shown that using telehealth for addiction treatment is just as effective as in-person treatment. So, on top of being more accessible for patients, virtual substance use disorder treatment is just as effective!

Pretty awesome to see all the benefits that virtual care is bringing to the addiction treatment space, right? These benefits are the reason why more and more patients and providers are flocking to telemedicine as a way to receive and give substance use disorder care. It’s looking promising that telehealth use will continue to rise in the addiction medicine space!

Scale your telehealth services with OpenLoop

Speaking of telehealth and addiction treatment, we have to introduce OpenLoop!

You can think of us as a telehealth company that powers other telehealth companies. We partner with virtual care organizations across the nation including many in the addiction and substance use disorder space. We work with clinics and companies to match their patients with our network of addiction specialists.

Our specialists lend support through…

  • Substance use treatment

  • Behavioral therapy

  • Prescriptive authority

  • And more!

Are you a telehealth company that offers or is looking to offer addiction and substance use disorder treatment? We’d love to connect to talk about what we can do for you! Get in touch here.

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