You were watching the news when you first heard of COVID-19. It came unexpectedly, like a rushing wind threatening to consume the peace you had left. After hearing that the virus is not only deadly but can cause you to quarantine, you begin feeling disconnected.
It’s challenging enough grappling with a severe heroin addiction triggered by your anxiety and now this. Not only are you contemplating how and when will you get your next hit, but if you contract the virus, you have to isolate yourself and quarantine. It sounds all like a huge nightmare, but don’t fret; here at Free by the Sea, we offer telehealth addiction treatment.
What Is Telehealth for Addiction?
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You might be wondering to yourself, ‘What is telehealth addiction treatment?” Telehealth is defined as the delivery of several health care services at a distance via technology. It involves the use of technologies such as:
- Smartphone applications
- Web-based tools
- Telephone-based services
Telehealth also includes monitoring a patient’s vital signs remotely and continuing training education for medical professionals. This is all geared towards providing care to a patient over a distance without requiring that patient to travel to the facility. The telehealth term is broader than telemedicine, which only includes the remote delivery of healthcare.
It can be delivered in one to three ways:
- Remote patient monitoring is when measurements such as blood pressure or weight are sent to the healthcare provider
- Asynchronous is when images, messages, or data are recorded to share with the doctor later
- Synchronous is when the doctor communicates with the patient in real-time via telephone or computer
For some individuals, the term telemedicine is considered the clinical use of technology, and telehealth refers to a more extensive approach that includes services and products directly aimed at consumers. Telehealth is considered a safe and convenient way to access crucial addiction treatment services.
When a treatment facility offers telehealth addiction treatment, the following is offered:
The application of telemedicine is considered fast, safe, and high-quality care. It can be used effectively to resolve or respond to various matters. Telemedicine has been shown to be successful in increasing access to treatment under drastic circumstances, such as:
- Remote areas
- Health care
Utilizing technology to deliver health care has various advantages, including the following:
- Ability to provide care to those in rural areas who don’t have access to a local clinic or doctor
- Improved access to services and increased care delivery
- Ability to provide care to those with mobility limitations
- Provision of care not previously deliverable
- Cost savings; reduced health care savings
- Quality control of screening programs
- Improved professional education
- Improved access to information
For the above reasons, the use of telehealth addiction treatment has significantly grown over the last decade. Currently, 76% of U.S. hospitals connect patients and doctors via telehealth remotely, and this is up from 35% a decade ago. As implied, telehealth has become even more fundamental during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
There have been fears of catching and spreading the virus during in-person medical visits which have led to greater interest in and use of technology to receive and provide health care. About three-quarters of Americans were surveyed and stated that the pandemic has made them more hopeful to try virtual care.
One in four Americans over the age of 50 stated that they had a virtual care visit during the first three months of the pandemic. This went up from 4% of the older adults who had a remote visit the previous year.
An Indian study in 2020 demonstrated that telemedicine can enhance case handling strategies, and learning skills, and assist in providing different medical services. The rapid transition to telemedicine in times of crisis and beyond offers patients a new way of access.
How Telehealth Addiction Treatment Can Shape You
- Improve productivity
- Enhance medical services
- Allow patients and families more allocated time to express their feelings and thoughts
Several studies suggest that telemedicine can be associated with improved treatment retention when it’s compared to patients having to travel for in-person treatment. Despite the current limitations of the above studies, researchers concluded that telemedicine-delivered treatments are a favorable alternative. Especially when evidence-based treatments aren’t readily available.
Furthermore, for certain substance use and treatment categories, specifically, when treatment retention is an essential outcome, it’s also possible that telemedicine could result in greater treatment retention. This is due to increased accessibility for numerous patients. To further expand on telehealth addiction treatment advantages, there were 22 results conducted.
Out of those 22 systematic reviews in three regions (the European Union, Australia, and the United States), it was indicated that telemedicine reduced alcohol consumption. Other common outcomes included:
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Increase in accessibility
- Increased quality of life
- Decreased cost
Comfort and Convenience
When a patient is accessing telemedicine, they don’t have to drive to the facility when they aren’t feeling well or need care. You are granted the privilege of accessing a physician from the comfort of your home whether you’re on your bed or sofa.
If you have a busy schedule, virtual visits are key. When it comes to telemedicine, depending on your schedule, you might not have to take time off of work or arrange for child care, etc.
Upon consulting with a physician, it’s always a good idea to have a family member who is able to ask questions on your behalf, provide information, and take notes of the physician’s responses. When it comes to telehealth addiction treatment, addiction affects the entire family. Therefore, in order to attain a successful recovery, the client must be healed, and the family.
It’s important to understand that having a family that is a strong support system establishes a strong foundation, it sets up a successful recovery. Not just for the patient, but for every member of that family. When the patient wins, so does everyone involved.
If a family member lives out of town, or across the country, telemedicine is able to loop that family member into the session.
Control of Infectious Diseases
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu, and various other infectious diseases, telehealth appointments are able to prescreen patients for possible infectious diseases. It saves sick individuals from having to come into the office.
When there is less exposure to those who are:
- Chronically ill
- Immunocompromised, it helps everyone.
For certain practitioners, seeing a patient in their element or home provides great benefits. It’s a great way to receive mental health assessments and counseling. For example, therapists are able to observe you in your home and access your ability to navigate and take care of yourself.
The Importance of Mental Health Treatment in Addiction
When an individual is struggling with substance abuse, there must be access to helpful resources. There is a great deal of importance in mental health treatment for addiction. Recovery alone is a process that comes with various obstacles.
If you are on the path to recovery, there will be several roadblocks and challenges. However, our specialists understand. They are able to assist you in eventually finding success and peace.
One of the most valuable factors of substance abuse treatment is our therapeutic approach. Addiction therapy can encourage our patients throughout the treatment process and prepare them for life outside of rehab. We offer mental health with our telehealth addiction treatment.
- Dialectical-behavioral therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual therapy
- Eye movement
- Group therapy
- Art therapy
Even though telehealth is an extensive tool, there are some drawbacks. There is limited data on the overall cost-effectiveness and clinical effectiveness of most telemedicine applications. The main predicted disadvantages are:
- A breakdown in the relationship between patient and health professional
- Issues concerning the quality of health information
- Administrative and organizational difficulties
Overall, the benefits of telehealth addiction treatment are significant, and more research will most likely eliminate the apparent drawbacks. 36% of responders from a cross-sectional study that was conducted at government hospitals believed that telemedicine could improve the effectiveness of a therapeutic intervention. Out of that same study, 44% believed that the quality of care was increased using telemedicine.
There was a total of 36 physicians that practiced telemedicine, and only 25 physicians were accepted to participate in the study. The difficulty in reaching the correct diagnosis is due to the lack of physical examination. It was considered one of the disadvantages that faced the participants.
Telemedicine should be a segment of medical services but shouldn’t completely replace a physician’s personal interaction. It’s ideal to be continued for stable remotely residing patients. Furthermore, the disadvantages of telemedicine addiction treatment include:
- Difficulties in making a diagnosis due to the lack of inability to use hands-on expertise and physical examination
- There are some people who aren’t aware of telehealth or don’t know how to access it
- The elderly utilizing telemedicine due to their limited technological skills
Why is Telehealth Becoming Popular?
Telehealth is becoming popular because it benefits health reasons and convenience. When individuals have the option to discuss treatment options and health concerns via their smartphone or tablet, convenience is within reach. Due to improved technology, telemedicine has become easier for those who aren’t considered tech-savvy.
Telehealth Outpatient Services
Our outpatient addiction treatment program helps our patients to establish and further develop a genuine commitment to their recovery. There are various benefits that have the potential of transforming individuals into sobriety. Generally, it focuses on counseling and therapy.
With our outpatient addiction treatment program, telehealth will be offered. When you’re in outpatient treatment, you can access addiction resources in the comfort of your home. The advantages of outpatient services are:
- The flexibility
- Safe support network
- The ability to continue with daily responsibilities
Within the realm of our offered outpatient services, there is an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and partial hospitalization (PHP). IOP is more advanced than standard outpatient and PHP is for those suffering from a severe mental health disorder and residing in a stable environment. Overall, our outpatient programs are suitable for those suffering from mild to moderate addictions.
Telehealth Addiction Treatment at Free by the Sea
The additional benefits are offered for the patients, physicians, and the greater health care system. Positive results have been attributed to the texting of mobile device apps through telemedicine. Telehealth can increase access to addiction treatment services by removing the barriers of stigma and geography.
- Enhanced convenience
- Cost savings
- Reduced travel time
Overall, we offer on-call medical care to our patients, and outpatient treatment is an affordable option. Outpatient programs are ideal for those serious about recovering and suffering from substance abuse disorders. Learn more about our telehealth addiction treatment program.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.