Telehealth Addiction Treatment and Online Therapy

If going to addiction treatment or mental health counseling in person is inconvenient, impractical or impossible for yourself or a loved one, consider Hazelden Betty Ford’s virtual care options.
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Your Guide to Virtual Care for Addiction and Mental Health Conditions

Telemedicine services were originally created to provide patient care in remote or rural communities or areas where certain types of medical or specialized care were unavailable. Some telemedicine solutions were developed to reach people with mobility or transportation challenges. Today telemedicine solutions provide you with convenient, patient-centered health care for a multitude of medical and mental health needs—including treatment for substance use disorders.

Thanks to telehealth technologies, Hazelden Betty Ford’s outpatient addiction treatment offerings and mental health therapy options are more widely available than ever. Here's what you need to know about the accessibility and effectiveness of telehealth services for addiction and other mental health challenges.

What is telehealth? 

Telehealth involves the use of technology to deliver healthcare services to patients, removing the need to travel for care. Examples of remote healthcare delivery include telephone-based services, videoconferencing and video visits, texting and virtual chats, smartphone applications, and online, web-based tools. "Telemedicine" is another term used to describe these types of virtual healthcare services. For some, the term telemedicine refers specifically to a medical or clinical use of technology while the term telehealth refers more broadly to a variety of virtual health care services, online therapy, outpatient programs and telemedicine solutions increasingly available to consumers. Telemedicine is also commonly referred to as e-health, digital medicine and virtual care.

How does virtual healthcare work?

Telehealth care delivery and care management have evolved dramatically in recent years. While virtual healthcare delivery varies by the types of services patients need and your access to devices and digital technologies in your home environment, two of the most common forms of telemedicine include:

  • Patient portals. Most medical and healthcare providers offer digital care management through patient portals that are accessed via the web. With username and password protection, these interactive, web-based accounts allow you to review your health history, exchange emails with your healthcare provider, request medication refills, schedule appointments and view your lab or test results. 

  • Virtual appointments. Rather than an in-person medical visit or therapy session, virtual appointments allow healthcare providers and mental health professionals to deliver treatment or counseling to you over the phone or through video conferencing. Video conferences are typically conducted from your home, but in some situations, patients might be required to drive to a clinic or office for a virtual appointment with a specialist. Delivery methods for virtual patient care and online therapy sessions vary, but HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance is a must. HIPAA was passed by Congress in 1996 and requires the protection and confidential handling of patient information and protected health records.

Is virtual drug rehab/online therapy legit?

Online addiction treatment programs and online therapy programs are becoming more widely available. In fact, emerging research shows that telemedicine options for outpatient rehab can mitigate common barriers to getting help, such as geographic distance from a treatment program or stigma about mental health disorders and/or the disease of addiction. Early indications suggest that online therapy and outpatient rehab programs have better participation rates than in-person treatment because the need to travel is eliminated, making regular attendance more convenient and likely.

What's the difference between in-person and virtual outpatient addiction treatment?

At Hazelden Betty Ford, online addiction treatment incorporates the same evidence-based practices as our in-person services. A phone-based assessment helps to identify the type and level of services you will need. For example, admission to an intensive outpatient program (IOP) could be a recommendation. An appointment with a licensed clinician could be another recommendation. Based on your specific needs, the duration of outpatient addiction treatment programming varies both in the number of days per week and hours per day. Online mental health therapy sessions are integrated with addiction treatment programming for patients with co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or trauma.

What's the difference between in-person and virtual mental health services?

Virtual mental health appointments work the same was as in-person mental health appointments at Hazelden Betty Ford, but from the comfort and convenience of your home. Telehealth sessions with our mental health care providers are an ideal option if you have mobility/accessibility challenges or if you’re not located near one of our facilities. Video technology makes your virtual session as interactive and therapeutically beneficial as an in-person session, without the need to travel to one of our clinics. Hazelden Betty Ford’s mental health professionals are licensed, credentialed and well-equipped to individualize your care using evidence-based therapeutic approaches.

How is telemedicine transforming treatment in rural communities? 

Many rural communities have difficulty recruiting health care providers and mental health professionals. Patients who live in rural areas travel long distances in order to access medical and behavioral healthcare. Telemedicine visits—via video chat, online therapy service and other telehealth care delivery—allow patients to overcome those barriers. For chronic health conditions such diabetes, hypertension or substance use disorders (the medical term for drug and alcohol addiction), telemedicine can eliminate the need for routine, in-person visits because conditions can be monitored through virtual visits.

How much does online therapy and treatment cost?

The cost of online therapy or online counseling depends on the health care provider and the services needed. Consider, too, that costs associated with online therapy sessions could include medications prescribed and other expenses. As a general rule, telehealth services are less expensive than a typical office visit. Many telehealth care options are covered by insurance.

What types of online therapy are covered by insurance? 

Insurance coverage depends on a variety of factors such as the state where you reside, the type of insurance you have and the healthcare services provided. Check with your insurance provider to determine coverage for online therapy and related telemedicine services.

What level of care does Hazelden Betty Ford offer virtually?

Hazelden Betty Ford’s telehealth addiction treatment options are suited for individuals needing an outpatient rehab level of care (as compared with residential or inpatient rehab programs). Our insurance-eligible telehealth treatment programs, mental health services and HIPAA-compliant technology platform ensure patient accessibility and privacy. All Hazelden Betty Ford virtual outpatient treatment services, including intensive outpatient programs (IOP), are designed to replicate our in-person services and run on a similar schedule. 

Ready to take the next step? 
Call 1-866-831-5700 or contact us today and our team of recovery experts will determine the most effective substance abuse treatment programs and services to help you reclaim your life from addiction.

Harnessing science, love and the wisdom of lived experience, we are a force of healing and hope ​​​​​​​for families and communities affected by substance use and mental health conditions.