Modern technology has done wonders for connecting people around the globe, but its potential benefits extend far beyond likes and shares. With the help of telecommuncations and information technologies, a new branch of medical treatment has evolved that’s known as “telemedicine.”
Telemedicine definitions vary, but in general it can be described as a remote doctor-patient relationship in which interactions, diagnostics, and consultations can be conducted through digital technologies. While telemedicine benefits many different areas of health, from emergency mental health counseling to diabetes monitoring, one area that has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years is telemedicine treatments for substance use and abuse disorders.
One of the most challenging aspects of treating addiction to alcohol, opioids, or other substances is that recovery can take months, years, or even a full lifetime. Withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opioids, for instance, might peak within one to three days and then taper off over the course of a week. But chronic withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, and dysphoria, can last for weeks or months following initial withdrawal.
Unfortunately, without proper support and supervision, many instances of relapse often occur during those long periods of withdrawal. It may not be financially or physically feasible for some addiction patients to stay under the direct watch of a detox doctor during the long process of recovery.
This is where telemedicine solutions for substance addiction come into play. With the help of remote doctor consultations, shared electronic health care records, access to additional recovery resources, and telehealth monitoring solutions, telemedicine provides an affordable, effective way to provide long-term care for recovering addicts.
With a deeper potential for patient engagement and the ability for multiple specialists to collaborate, telemedicine provides a better quality of care overall. While addiction is a notoriously difficult struggle to overcome, it can be made a little bit easier with the help of an available network right at the patient’s fingertips — anytime, day or night.
Today, about half of all states in the U.S., including Florida, have laws that provide insurance coverage for telemedicine services. This emerging field could play an integral role in the future of all healthcare as we know it, but especially in addictions treatment and recovery.