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telemedicine for substance abuse

What does Telemedicine Look like for Substance Abuse?

At this point, we all know what telemedicine is and what the benefits are. But do you know what telemedicine for substance abuse looks like? How different is it from modern telemedicine or traditional rehab services? Today, that’s what we at Direct2Recovery want to share with you. 

So telemedicine, as we know, is the use of technology to see a doctor from the comfort of your own home. You can call them, video chat with them, and even do some testing or screening from home while they supervise. There is no shame in it, only comfort and an elevated level of discreteness. 

When you contact a clinic that offers telemedicine, they’ll likely evaluate your situation to determine if telemedicine is right for you. At Direct2Recovery, we want to make sure you’re on the right path to success even if that means that telemedicine is not right for you. 

Here is an overview of our practices

Our Assessment Process for Telemedicine for Substance Abuse

We have a few steps to our initial assessment process. First, our intake department will discuss your concerns and answer all of your questions about our process. Assuming we’re the right clinic for you, then we’ll schedule an assessment appointment or give a referral. 

You or your affected loved one will then meet with a certified provider for assessment to determine a treatment plan. Every treatment plan is customized and tailored to fit your individual needs. Nothing is cookie-cutter here: we believe the best approach to overcoming addiction is one that fits your needs. 

Everything will be smoothed out, including your insurance situation and the cost of treatment. At this point you or your loved one decide to enter treatment. If you decide that we’re not a great fit, then we’ll provide other resources and options to give you the best chance of a successful recovery. 

Counseling Requirement

We do require counseling if you choose one of our medication-assisted plans. Once buprenorphine treatment starts, all patients are required to be in active counseling/therapy. Counseling must continue for the duration of treatment. See below for a few options.

Why Is Counseling an Important Tool in the Treatment Process?

Addiction is a learned behavior that changes the brain to become conditioned to continually want the substance. Counseling is proven to help reverse those changes. .

Medication alone can reduce cravings and withdrawal, but recovering from an addictive disorder requires a rewiring of the brain and medication alone is not enough. This is where telemedicine begins to come into play.

Telemedicine Visits

How often you have telemedicine check-ins will depend on how far along you are in your recovery. In general, telemedicine begins after 6 full months of training if you’re doing well in treatment. As we said, we take every client in and create a personalized treatment plan for them. This is just our general guidelines. 

Telemedicine visits would be every other month in lieu of your visit to the clinic. There are exceptions to this rule! 

Testing

We do offer at-home testing! All at-home testing kits are sent to your home and administered during visits. The patient will open the saliva kit, use it, and seal it in front of one of our counselors. 

If you prefer to test in our office, we still offer those services as well. 

Testing positive for substances of abuse may be grounds for dismissal from treatment. We have the three strikes you’re out rule. Once treatment starts, we will be giving patients two exceptions when relapsing, and testing positive. However, on the third relapse and positive test, we will dismiss you from our program and give resources to facilities that may help you overcome the strong hold the substances have on you.

Counseling and Telemedicine 

Mental health and telemedicine work very well together. Many counselors provide telehealth services for all of their patients, so it makes perfect sense to extend it into the addiction recovery sphere as well.  

In addition to leading you or your loved one toward success in their treatment, these scheduled meetings give them a support system and help keep them accountable. 

The Telehealth for Addiction Treatment and Recovery listed several studies that suggest that telemedicine could be associated with improved treatment retention when compared to participants having to travel for in-person treatment.

Results from a systematic review of 22 articles conducted in three regions (the United States, the European Union, and Australia) indicated that telemedicine reduced alcohol consumption. 

Other common outcomes included reduced depression, increased patient satisfaction, increase in accessibility, increased quality of life and decreased cost. Interventions included mobile health, electronic health, telephone and two-way video.

The report also noted a prominent ramp-up in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) access is providing it via telemedicine. This is what we do at Direct2Recovery! 

To summarize everything, everything we can do in a clinic, we can do through telemedicine. If you want to learn more, or get started, give us a call! We’ll be happy to help. 

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