Substance Abuse Care Found to be very Effective via Telehealth

By: Dominick L. Flarey, Ph.D, RN-BC, ANP-BC, FACHE
Board Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner
Board Certified Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse
Executive Director The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc.


Substance abuse care has traditionally been delivered in person, but a new study has found that telehealth can be just as effective. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, followed a group of patients who were receiving care for substance abuse via telehealth. The researchers found that the patients who received care via telehealth were just as likely to stay in treatment and abstain from substance use as those who received in-person care.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many doctors to get creative with their treatment methods, including the use of telehealth to treat patients with opioid addiction. This is because traditional in-person treatments are not possible during the pandemic. Telehealth allows doctors to provide care to patients remotely, which is crucial for ensuring that patients with opioid addiction continue to receive the treatment they need.

In this US NEWS Article, author Cara Murez, presents the findings from a new study released by the Yale School of Public Health. This study consisted of survey research of more than 1,100 physicians who treated opioid-use disorder patients via telehealth.

“Researchers found that 6 out of every 7 physicians were in favor of making this temporary telehealth flexibility a permanent part of their practice. More than 75% said they would like to continue using telehealth after the COVID pandemic if regulations permitted.”

Most Docs Want Telehealth for Opiod Abuse Treatment to Stick Around. Cara Murez. US NEWS. October 17, 2022.

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Care of patients with opiod addictions research shows telehealth is a viable option for their treatment. In a study done by the University of Colorado, it was found that patients who used telehealth for their care had better outcomes than those who did not. The study found that patients who used telehealth were more likely to remain in treatment and less likely to relapse. This is an important finding as it shows that telehealth can be an effective tool in the treatment of opiod addiction.

The flexibility of telehealth would allow more individuals to access life-saving treatment for opioid addiction. This would increase the number of people who are able to receive treatment and improve the chances of success for those who are struggling with addiction. By expanding the availability of treatment, we can make a significant impact on the opioid epidemic and save lives.

The number of people that die from opiod addiction is staggering. In the United States alone, the number of people dying from opiod addiction has quadrupled in the last fifteen years. This is a national tragedy that requires a concerted effort to address.

Factors leading to Opiod Abuse

There are many factors that contribute to the high number of deaths from opiod addiction. One is the widespread availability of opiates, both legal and illegal. Another factor is the lack of access to treatment for those suffering from addiction.

The lack of access to treatment for opioid addiction is a major problem facing our society today. There are many reasons for this problem, but the most important one is the stigma surrounding addiction. Too often, people view addicts as weak or morally corrupt, and this makes it difficult for them to get the help they need. Additionally, many insurance companies do not cover addiction treatment, which makes it even more difficult for addicts to get the help they need.

Benefits of Telehealth Counseling

There are numerous benefits of telehealth patient care, including improved access to care, increased convenience, and improved clinical outcomes. Telehealth can also help to reduce healthcare costs by reducing travel time and expenses for patients and providers alike. In addition, telehealth services can improve continuity of care by providing patients with easier access to their providers and medical records.

Patient counseling by telehealth is the process of providing counseling and support to patients via telephone or video conferencing. This type of counseling can be beneficial for patients who live in remote areas or who have difficulty accessing traditional counseling services. Telehealth counseling can also be helpful for patients who prefer to receive counseling in the privacy of their own homes.

Patients often feel that telehealth counseling is more private and confidential than in-person counseling. This may be due to the increased sense of anonymity that telehealth provides. Patients may also feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics in the privacy of their own homes. Telehealth can also provide a sense of flexibility and convenience that is not always possible with in-person counseling.

Telehealth and Medication Prescribing

The use of telehealth to prescribe medications for opioid abuse is becoming increasingly popular. There are many advantages to using telehealth to prescribe medications, including the ability to reach a larger number of patients, the ability to provide more individualized care, and the ability to reduce the risk of medication errors.

Health care providers can prescribe medications and send them directly to pharmacies using telehealth technology. This process allows patients to receive their medications more quickly and conveniently. In addition, it helps to ensure that patients take their medications as prescribed and reduces the risk of medication errors.

Emergency Visits by Telehealth

There is growing evidence that emergency sessions for opioid abuse patients can be done effectively by telehealth. A recent study found that patients who participated in emergency telehealth sessions had a significant reduction in craving scores and were more likely to stay in treatment.

Emergency sessions for opioid abuse patients can be done by telehealth as needed in order to provide the patient with the necessary care and support they need. This is a significant advantage for patients and providers and can be life-saving. Providers can quickly call community rescue services if  their assessment of the patient finds the patient to be in any type of danger physically or emotionally.

Continuum of Care

A full continuum of care is possible for opioid and other types of substance abusers with telehealth. This means that individuals can receive services and support at every stage of their addiction, from initial treatment and detoxification to long-term recovery and maintenance. Telehealth can provide access to a variety of care providers, including counselors, psychiatrists, and physicians, who can work together to create an individualized care plan.

In conclusion,it is evident that telehealth has many benefits in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. It is convenient, accessible, and anonymous. Telehealth also allows for a more individualized approach to treatment. It is important to continue to research and develop telehealth services in order to provide the best possible care for those suffering from substance abuse disorders.

Career Opportunities

There are many career opportunities today in the specialty practice of substance abuse and addictive disorders. If you are a health care professional and are interested in learning about this practice specialty; the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. offers a full program of continuing education and certification in Substance Abuse Counseling leading to Certification as a Substance Abuse Practitioner. You may preview information on this program: access here.

Additional Resources

Understanding the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facility Operations and Patient Success: Evidence From Mississippi. Devon Meadowdcroft, Sage Journals. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. May 13, 2022. Access here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the Impact on Substance Use Disorder Treatments. Osnat C.Melamed, Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Vol. 45, Issue # 1: March 2022. Access here.

Using telehealth to improve buprenorphine access during and after COVID-19: A rapid response initiative in Rhode Island. Seth A. Clark, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Vol. 124: May 2021. Access here.

Telehealth Capability Among Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities in Counties With High Versus Low COVID-19 Social Distancing. Jonathan Cantor, Journal of Addiction Medicine. December 2020. Access here.