Addiction can be an exclusive disease; not everyone has the good fortune to be located close to an area with great addiction treatment facilities, and not everyone has the resources to travel or send their loved ones to another city for the best treatment.
When you or a loved one struggles with addiction, you’ve likely exhausted all options in your search for relief. Online rehab programs exist for people who want an alternative to standard, inpatient or outpatient rehab programs and want a more flexible setting in which to recover.
But do virtual rehab programs work effectively? Here, we look at strategies used by online rehab programs and whether they work as well as the real thing, and why or why not.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, Outpatient Services wants to help. For more information about the addiction treatment services we offer, call us at (844) 211-7944 or contact us online.
What Is Online Rehab?
Ideally, every person addicted to drugs or alcohol has the free time and ability to spend time in face-to-face recovery programs, but realistically this isn’t always the case. Online rehab programs were invented to give addicts a new way to access the care they need without stopping their lives to get it.
Online rehab usually uses some kind of distance interaction, such as video conferencing to offer treatment to patients. In theory, virtual rehab is no different than physical rehab, but instead of having to be there in person, addicts can stay home and function semi-normally, ideally creating a comfortable, private environment for recovery.
Here are some of the intended benefits of undergoing the process of rehab online:
It Offers Rehab in a Non-Invasive Way
With online rehab, addicts are able to complete a treatment program at a fraction of the interruption to their lives. No relocation, no lapse in work, school or family responsibilities and the ability to undergo a potentially difficult process in the comfort of their own home.
Online Treatment is Among the Most Affordable Options
Online rehab programs are currently offered at a fraction of the price that traditional rehab programs are. For patients without insurance that pays for their treatment, this can be the difference between being able to afford treatment and not.
Online Rehab is Judgment-Free
A major issue that people addicted to drugs or alcohol have with traditional rehab is that they think other people may find out. Studies on the subject have actually shown that fear of being judged is a factor that can bar an addict even asking for help and entering rehab in the first place, so in theory, the ability to receive treatment in total anonymity is a major draw.
Addicts Can Go at Their Own Pace
Because online rehab is so cheap compared to in-person versions, addicts can potentially go through a treatment program at their own speed and comfort levels, without the pressure that finite stints in a rehab facility can create. This, ideally, can increase odds of the effectiveness of treatment.
Virtual Treatment Can Achieve Many of the Same Goals
An issue that comes up when comparing in-person to long-distance rehab is the issues that can be worked through in therapy sessions and group meetings. As at least one program has shown, though, distance learning can complete many of the same objectives:
A computer program, developed by scientists at Yale University, called Computer Based Training for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT4CBT) puts addicts through real-life scenarios through the point of view of Anna, a hypothetical addict. The program allows addicts to place themselves in real situations that help them identify their triggers and the negative consequences of their addiction.
The Issue With Online Rehab
In theory, online rehab provides a simple, private way to recover from substance abuse and addiction, something that 23 million Americans struggle with at any given time. If the treatment community was truly able to standardize distance treatment for addiction, the country’s drug and alcohol addiction epidemic would be much less serious, but realistically, there are several issues with the concept of online rehab:
Lack of Medical Detox
One of the most dangerous times during recovery is the process of detox. If addicts are left to detox on their own, there is a serious liability on the part of the company facilitating the online rehab program because A. detox can be dangerous and even fatal if patients are left unattended and B. trying to stop using drugs or alcohol has a very low success rate when the addict is alone.
Medical supervision in a clinical setting, whether inpatient or outpatient, is the safest and most effective way to help a patient detox.
Meetings and In-Person Treatment Are Proven Effective
Although some addicts may learn through computer programs, time and clinical success rates have shown that the therapy accessed through residential treatment (family and group therapy, face-to-face counseling) and outpatient treatment (12-step meetings, etc.) can foster the creation of a community that is far more effective than a video conference once a week.
The effectiveness of group meetings is having a group of people to provide support, strength, and positivity when you’re feeling weak, and this just isn’t available online.
Online Rehab is Simply Not a Known Quantity at This Time
Even if online rehab has the potential to be the solution that many addicts and their families need to be successful in recovery, it seems too soon to recommend this path. There is too little known about these programs, most of which are still in a pilot stage, and there is no room to guess when talking about the real, life or death consequences of drug and alcohol addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you need to find a treatment system that works. Inpatient, outpatient or otherwise, our Addiction Counselor’s are standing by to answer your questions, address your concerns about treatment and help guide you to the strategy that will fit you best on your road to recovery. For more information about Outpatient Services, call (844) 211-7944 today.