The internet has changed the way we do things, including addressing addiction problems. Today, people turn to the internet for all kinds of addiction-related issues, whether it’s to self-diagnose, find professional help, or to browse through endless online addiction resources to gain more insights about what they are dealing with. And in the face of the social distancing measures needed in the coronavirus pandemic, many in-person rehabilitations are becoming online out of necessity.
Currently, enrolling in a telnet drug rehab may no longer be an option but a necessity for many patients. Countries across the globe are moving fast against COVID-19 to avoid disaster. Most of them have canceled international flights, closed borders, banned all social gatherings, and enforced lockdowns to flatten the curve. So, it might be impossible to travel from one city or state to another to access a physical rehab center. The social distancing guideline also means that patients can no longer access Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, pushing them to switch to digital technologies like Skype or Zoom for continued support.
If you are planning to start your journey to sobriety during the crisis (or even afterward), you are probably wondering about whether remote alcohol or drug rehab works. In this article, we will dive deeper into what remote drug rehabs do, and why they are the best option for many individuals. But before we do that, let’s address your concerns about whether a remote drug rehab can help with your addiction problem.
As substance abuse continues to challenge traditional treatment programs, activists and advocates are exploring ways to reach patients who might not respond adequately to standard models. Most of them incline towards remote treatments, which are outpatient programs designed to address an individual’s specific needs using digital technologies. Remote substance abuse treatment is perhaps the most advanced way to reach patients who live on the margins (or those who cannot access treatment due to COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions).
A group of researchers performed a systemic survey on interventions delivering substance use disorders (SUD) treatment by video calling that looked at clinical effects of drug abuse, treatment retention, and feasibility, and acceptability. Interventions were divided according to substances, including opioids and alcohol. Most of the reviews suggest that remote treatment could be associated with enhanced treatment retention than traditional treatment that involves travel. These researchers concluded that telnet rehabs are a promising alternative, particularly when evidence-based treatment isn’t readily available.
For specific substance use and treatment categories, especially when treatment retention is a significant outcome, it’s also possible that telnet care could lead to higher treatment retention because of increased accessibility for patients.
In another systemic review of 20+ articles performed in the US, Australia, and the European Union, remote rehabilitation lowered alcohol consumption to a great extent. It also had incredible outcomes reducing depression, increasing accessibility, increasing patient satisfaction, reducing cost, and enhancing the quality of life.
Although traditional treatment is still an essential component of addiction treatments, it is certainly not the be-all-end-all. Many caregivers attest that in-person care makes patients dependent on them when what they need is to face their addiction recovery process with brevity. Besides, we live in an on-demand world. Unlike years back, when people had to wait for days or weeks to get appointments and even enroll in their rehab of choice, they are now leaning towards immediate care. People want what they want when they want, and that’s where online rehabs come handy. Here’s why more patients are embracing remote treatments:
One of the primary duties of substance abuse treatment centers is to educate their patients. The internet offers an excellent opportunity for these facilities to provide vast resources through videos, audios, articles, blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, and so on. So patients can access these educative materials irrespective of their location or circumstances.
Online rehab is especially valuable in the remote areas – where people might not have access to any other form of alcohol or drug addiction treatment programs because of limited or no treatment facilities in their geographic area. Having to travel long distances and spare hours out of a busy schedule to get help can be a burden on many patients. But with a steady internet connection, and an internet-powered device, remote rehab provides quick and easy access to care that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
The fact that one can access addiction treatment in the comfort of their own home (or place of choice) makes digital learning an appealing option. This learning model allows patients to schedule their rehab sessions at the most convenient time – whether it’s early in the morning or late at night.
Not every person who is struggling with addiction wants others to know that they are getting professional help. And while traditional rehab systems go to a greater extent to ensure privacy, one can’t hide the fact that they are getting help from their loved ones. Telnet rehabs give patients the discretion they need throughout their recovery journey.
One of the main benefits of online rehab is affordability. The boarding costs and the traveling costs associated with traditional rehab make it less appealing for many patients who don’t have financial resources at their disposal. Online programs offer quality solutions at a fraction of the cost, making it an excellent option for many patients. Most health insurance plans will also cover remote treatment options.
The internet makes mental health treatment more accessible. Rehabilitation centers are always up and running 24/7, and have on-call professionals who can be accessed on an immediate basis (though this might vary from one facility to the next). Most centers provide a “please call” number that patients can dial, should there be an emergency.
Remote treatments allow patients with substance use disorder to stay in treatment and get remote drug counseling to help in their journey. Through reduced travel time, enhanced convenience, and cost-saving, telnet rehab provides additional benefits for physicians, patients, and the greater healthcare system.
Many people saw a meme going around in late January - early February that looked like a reputable news story, with the headline: “Cocaine Kills Coronavirus, scientist is shocked that the drug can fight the virus”. This had many people seeing (and believing) that just maybe, the illegal, illicit drug could help prevent people from getting COVID-19. Of course, to answer the question can cocaine help kill the coronavirus, or COVID-19 is a resounding NO. Absolutely this news “story” was false.
Cocaine cannot kill the coronavirus, nor assist in the treatment of any disease. In fact, the use of cocaine in any form would probably only make any symptoms of COVID19 much, much worse. Coronaviruses are a respiratory infection that weakens your breathing and causes a nasty cough in the most severe cases. Snorting coke as a powder, or smoking crack cocaine both damage your respiratory tract, which could weaken your immune system response. Using cocaine would hinder your ability to fight-off diseases by harming your body’s natural response system.
Oddly enough, in researching this story, I found out the meme originated from a tweet by Anton Newcombe, the front man for the 1990’s psychedelic-revival, American rock band: The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
— anton newcombe (@antonnewcombe) January 30, 2020
This is a band that I am a huge fan of. I actually still listen to BJM (a lot) and that I have followed for years, so it was kind of a funny discovery for me. Even Newcombe himself was shocked at how far the tweet had spread. The French government’s official Health Ministry had to issue a tweet saying: “No, cocaine does not protect against COVID-19.”
— Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé (@MinSoliSante) March 10, 2020
Furthermore, major mainstream media publications, like CBS News and Business Insider have covered the controversial ‘cocaine kills the coronavirus’ tweet. The latter compelled the BJM front man to reply on his own tweet: “a minimum of common sense is needed when you are online” adding, “this tweet was a joke.” Unfortunately for logic, the joke went over the heads of quite a few people. I’m guessing a lot of wishful thinking went into the (no pun intended) viral spread of this tweet as misinformation.
Another post of internet disinformation by none other than QAnon. It claimed that drinking a “Miracle Mineral Solution” or “MMS” would kill the coronavirus. This “MMS” is a type of bleach, and is deadly. Obviously, drinking bleach will kill you before it ever killed any viruses in your body, so please, have some common sense and don’t drink bleach either!
This quarantine has hit all of us pretty hard. All across the world, people are washing their hands and practicing social distancing, but what does that mean for people in active addiction recovery that are reliant upon a social network of peer support groups? For people who use drugs or are in a treatment program for addiction and a substance use disorder, the threat of the coronavirus might seem remote when compared to the very real threat of a drug overdose, painful withdrawal symptoms, or a life-threatening relapse.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recommended that people stock up on their medications along with food and other necessities as the quarantine began to close stores and force people to stay home. With strict federal control of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescriptions like buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, it is impossible for a recovering addict to obtain a larger supply of these life-saving medications.
Many who are struggling with addiction are currently being faced with yet another onerous hurdle to their continued sobriety. Continuity of care is essential in addiction treatment programs. The disruption of quarantine guidelines sent down from federal, state and local governments can cause people to miss doctor appointments and other types of treatment services, like counseling and group therapy sessions.
Absolutely vital 12-step program meetings, like AA and NA are virtually nonexistent. Yet many are trying to adapt to the current state of everything as best as they can. Some peer support groups and drug rehab centers have begun hosting meetings and outpatient group therapy videos online. Through streaming services like Facetime, Skype Google Hangouts or Zoom, they hope to offer continuity of care while we all attempt to socially-distance ourselves from one another.
Many drug rehabilitation facilities are making rapid changes to their services due to the coronavirus pandemic. In my opinion, these changes are urgent given the existential weight of this global threat. Typically stressful situations, (say, a pandemic for instance) can trigger recovering addicts, tempting them to relapse into their old, familiar patterns of substance abuse.
These stressors are especially difficult not only for people who are recovering, but also for people currently in active addiction.
It is hard for many of us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not only do we have to deal with a potentially-deadly, highly-contagious virus spreading, but we will also have to deal with a substantial economic crisis once this quarantine is over. With all the stress, worry and uncertainty of 2020, many in the drug rehab industry are worried that more people will relapse as a result of this crisis.
The good news is that drug rehabilitation facilities are still open all across the United States. They, like other medical services, are considered “essential businesses” and while they are allowed to remain open at this time, many are turning to video services both for group therapy sessions and one-on-one counseling, in an attempt to limit physical, social contact. Sarah Dowling, the program director for 10 Acre Ranch, an addiction treatment facility in Riverside, California had this to say about the pandemic:
"During this desperate time of crisis there is still hope and community. Online meetings are in full effect and people are learning how to stay connected without the ability to leave their homes. It is refreshing to see people making extra efforts to reach out to those who are seeking help. I would hope anyone in need would find the courage to call us or log into an online meeting for support." - Sarah Dowling MSW, CADC-III, CATC IV