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Addiction Treatment in the Digital Space

Telehealth is not new. It was often used as an adjunct service for those patients who needed an alternative to a face-to-face visit with their healthcare provider. But because of the global pandemic and related government-mandated shutdowns that were put into place to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, in 2020, telehealth was pushed into the forefront.

Now that a vaccine is readily available and states throughout the US are returning to some sense of normalcy, telehealth service providers continue to grow. It’s too early to know for certain, but preliminary research shows that both patients and healthcare providers alike value the convenience and affordability that telehealth services provide.

What Exactly is Telehealth?
Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration (Health Resources & Services Administration, 2020).

Telehealth services include video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, mobile health services, and other electronic communications, including smartphone applications and text messaging.

The Effectiveness of Telehealth Tools in Addiction Treatment
Our friends at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Butler Center for Research report that when a smartphone app is included in a treatment plan to help reduce or abstain from alcohol use, treatment outcomes improve. And for non-smartphone users, text messaging platforms that allow the phone user to both send and receive text interventions also have positive results.

One study looked at which digital platforms were of the most interest to those looking for addiction treatment. According to the Butler Center for Research, “the technologies that generated the greatest interest were videoconferencing and mobile apps. The primary benefits identified for videoconferencing were greater access to services for rural patients and greater access to physicians who could prescribe Suboxone® for opioid dependence. Smartphone apps greatest benefit identified was the ability to reach individuals in treatment recovery outside the treatment setting.”

The Importance of Connection
Addiction is a chronic disease and if not effectively managed, the risk of relapse (or worse) is very real. With digital interventions, clinicians are better able to stay connected with their client after discharge. Per the Butler Center, “telemedicine can increase access to addiction treatment services by removing the barriers of geography and stigma.” Disconnection and isolation are hallmarks of the disease of addiction. Maintaining those connections made during treatment is so important to achieving long-term recovery. Fortunately, today, those connections can be made and kept with the push of a button.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or other drugs and are feeling disconnected, Plum Creek Recovery Ranch is here to help. Click here to contact one of our caring Admissions Counselors for an absolutely free and anonymous assessment.

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