The use of telehealth is relatively new in behavioral health settings. When it comes to addiction recovery, it is not new but definitely still a technology learning to evolve to help those who struggle with substance use disorder. Telephone-based services, texting, and web therapy can be challenging as far as meeting the needs of people in rehab and recovery as well as possible.
Telemedicine is considered the clinical use of technology to help people navigate health and wellness resources. Find out how telehealth is serving people in recovery and supporting veterans and first responders specifically as they seek help.
Why People Need Telehealth
Shortages of mental health professionals in some areas are pushing the need for telehealth into the spotlight. When people suffer from addiction, they may not be able to access resources nearby to support them. There are challenges in addressing their healthcare needs, especially for veterans and first responders due to trauma, symptoms of PTSD, and other mental health issues that may go unaddressed. With a complex need such as this, telehealth has the potential to increase people’s access to support services, remove barriers to treatment, and support them where they are at this moment.
Telehealth is often covered differently than in-person services so it helps to have a conversation with insurance providers to be sure what they will cover. More services are being covered in this way than in person due to lower costs. It is worth checking into with providers as people seek pathways of hope and healing in new ways from addiction and the challenges of mental health disorders.
Telehealth is a tool, a resource, rather than the only option for people in recovery. Medical practices have various means now of delivering resources and support to people. With an established relationship face-to-face, telemedicine can offer complementary support in addition to other kinds of medical care available. Most people have access to some type of in-person care, even if they cannot get access to all types of care they want or need.
When it comes to seasons of life, people may not be able to leave their home or travel for care. If they cannot receive it, they may not get any care at all. Mobile technology has created vast digital programs around addiction, including behavioral health, as therapy for veterans and first responders.
Have a Sense of Control
The feeling that a person has control can feel foreign in recovery. Rehab may turn every notion of a person’s idea of themselves or their needs on their head. Recovery can feel less like control and more like losing all the control to other people. Everyone who seeks treatment should feel they have control over the process. Their health is in their hands, even if others are supporting that treatment. Autonomy is key when developing a relationship over telehealth services.
People with mental health conditions are less likely to trust others, especially if they have serious histories of trauma and neglect. Building trust is important. It helps when people are using telehealth to receive:
- Support where they live, in the safety of their home environment
- Offer help if they are navigating childcare, health issues, or work challenges in getting care
- Encouragement to reach out when they want it (maintaining control of their resources)
- Resources for the long journey ahead
Tracking Changes or Shifts
Doctors and counselors in behavioral health and addiction medicine work hard to deliver care that is appropriate for each person. When people use telemedicine, it is easier to chart their day-to-day life if they can reach them more frequently. Quick action can be taken if they are struggling at that moment rather than seeing them a week after they had a serious panic attack and could not reach for their phone.
It is a good way to see the impact of any shifts in medication, changes in the delivery of services, or treatment that makes it necessary to scale treatment to fit their current needs. This makes it an excellent option, especially if they are not able to leave home and get to the necessary services.
Part of the action planning for telemedicine care for people with addiction and behavioral health concerns is to track behavioral patterns. This may mean looking at comorbidity, co-occurring conditions, crossover addictions, and ways to bring continuity of care to people’s treatment goals. Behavioral programs can be designed with each person in mind, given their circumstances and needs. With apps, programs, and services, there are a lot of options healthcare providers can offer in this area to provide help.
A specific program can be designed to help bring people together in recovery groups, meet others in therapy settings individually, and even connect with families that are not nearby to bring them into the process virtually. Taking ownership of their life is only one part of the journey. The long road of recovery is difficult but that makes it all the more important to get people the necessary services to thrive where they are. Telehealth can be a great way to help those with addiction and mental health issues to find support and healing.
Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.
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