A survey of addiction treatment professionals in California was conducted on telemedicine. Of the respondents, 81% agreed telemedicine has dramatically increased since the pandemic, and 78% reported telemedicine has either reduced or eliminated barriers to treatment for some residents. According to research, online therapy for substance misuse and substance use disorders has risen by 1400%.
What Are Virtual Rehabs?
Virtual rehab is another name for online rehab, internet counseling, teletherapy, or online addiction treatment. While the terms vary, the goal doesn’t. Virtual rehabs provide treatment for alcohol or drug use disorder using electronic methods. Skype, Zoom, and Google Meets are a few examples of how your therapist may choose to conduct virtual rehab. They may also want to join an online therapy platform like BetterHelp or TalkSpace, explicitly designed for virtual mental health and substance use treatment, or create their online portal and e-prescription platform.
Benefits of Virtual Rehabs
There are some great benefits associated with virtual rehab programs, like those mentioned below.
One of the most significant advantages of virtual rehab is that you can participate from the comfort and confidentiality of your home. Some people may forego treatment if they have privacy concerns. Virtual rehab eliminates privacy concerns by using trusted software to protect your identity and personal information.
Before the rise in virtual rehab services, attending treatment meant taking off work or using your lunch break. With virtual rehab, scheduling is more flexible. You and your treatment team determine the times convenient for all of you, and it could be evenings, weekends, or “normal” business hours.
Logging on to a computer or an app on your cell phone is much simpler than finding a ride, wear and tear on your vehicle, parking, traffic, and other physical barriers that make it hard to receive adequate treatment. You can access your treatment team from anywhere in the world.
Attending therapy in person can sometimes cost more due to a facility’s costs, such as staffing and utilities. Those costs are no longer a factor with virtual rehab. It may even become more cost-efficient for your treatment team too.
A big part of every person’s recovery plan is social support, which can happen differently. Creating a support system involves surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed and can be accessible to you when you encounter triggers and need help avoiding a relapse. Giving feedback, empathy, and encouragement is essential for recovery and can be done online.
Social support also comes from peers. Attending peer support groups like 12 Step facilitation and SMART Recovery can improve recovery outcomes. There are online support groups for your loved ones too. Because everyone in your life is affected by your substance misuse, they can benefit from social support for their recovery.
Your treatment team can connect you to treatment resources to help you and your loved ones learn more about the disease of addiction and recovery. You will be able to link to these resources online anytime. This is much better than keeping up with brochures and other literature. With just the click of a button, you can access videos, books, articles, blogs, and many other recovery tools.
Who Is on the Treatment Team?
Your treatment team will consist of licensed addiction professionals who provide a specific service. A psychiatrist is a physician with unique expertise in mental health and addiction medicine. If you experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings, or have a co-occurring disorder, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication to treat your symptoms. This can be highly beneficial during detox and in early recovery. With virtual rehabs, you will consult with your psychiatrist online, and they can send your prescription directly to a pharmacist through their e-prescribe program.
A psychologist or licensed professional therapist will conduct an extensive assessment to determine which level of care you need when you begin virtual rehab. For example, you may be recommended for partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and individual counseling during the early treatment when you need the most support. Whether you participate in individual or group therapy, your therapist will use the same treatment methods they would in person. They will adapt them for online services, however. Some examples of therapeutic techniques to treat your substance use disorder include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Contingency management
- Motivational interviewing
What Is the Process of Virtual Rehab?
You can get started in two simple ways. First, log on to the treatment center’s website, search for their “contact us” page, complete and submit the contact form. Two, call them. One of their team members will respond to you in a short period and walk with you through the following steps, which may include:
- A brief screening to gather basic information. You will receive paperwork to complete via email or through their website portal. Paperwork typically includes HIPAA information, facility rules and regulations, and admission forms detailing your personal information like insurance coverage and physical, psychological, and substance use histories.
- You will be given an appointment time for an online evaluation, at which time you will work with a treatment professional to determine the types of services needed.
- You will receive a schedule detailing the days, times, and virtual connection instructions to the services offered, including IOP and PHP.
A sample schedule for IOP will give you at least ten hours of group and individual counseling each week. The focus of the groups varies so you can learn coping skills, receive information on addiction and family therapy. Your virtual rehab can begin today. It starts when you call or start an online communication with the treatment center staff. Now that you have everything you need to know about virtual rehabs, you can give yourself the gift of recovery. You deserve it!