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Teletherapy for Addiction Treatment

Technology has become a stable part of our lives, and its latest advancements are being implemented in all fields. In addiction treatment modalities, technological advancements take many forms, one of which is teletherapy.

Teletherapy is a type of remote mental health counseling. The reason that it works so well for addiction treatment is that it adapts to patients’ lifestyles and different needs.

So, keep reading this article to learn all about teletherapy and its role as an adjunct therapy after rehabilitation. Let’s dive in.

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is defined as remote therapy sessions utilizing modern technology to help patients and therapists communicate anytime from anywhere.

Just like traditional, in-person therapy, teletherapy sessions are modified according to each patient. It stretches over several sessions where clients and therapists get to know each other, communicate, and assess the patient’s issues.

The reason teletherapy is growing in popularity with almost all therapists combining teletherapy into their treatment modalities is that it’s an adaptive therapeutic approach. Patients and therapists can communicate through various platforms, including:

  • Video platforms such as Zoom
  • Therapy sessions over the telephone
  • Using therapy applications that connect patients with therapists specializing in certain disciplines

The Intersection of Teletherapy and Addiction Treatment

There’s no denying that teletherapy is a great choice for numerous individuals looking for remote therapy. However, it’s a particularly useful treatment modality in the case of addiction patients.

Patients struggling with substance abuse often require ongoing treatment. Typically, this starts with inpatient rehabilitation, and then regular intensive outpatient programs.

Once the rigorous part of the treatment is over, patients might still need support, especially during vulnerable times. That’s why the accessibility and flexibility of teletherapy can be a lifesaver.

Benefits of Teletherapy for Addiction Treatment

Here are all the reasons why teletherapy is a crucial part of addiction treatment:


Constant support can significantly help in addiction recovery, particularly in preventing relapses. So, accessing therapy sessions without leaving the comfort of home or running into triggers is the optimal treatment modality.

With teletherapy, addiction patients don’t have to wait for weeks to get a therapy session. Instead, they have faster access to care and prescriptions.

That’s not all. Patients with disabilities or those unable to attend traditional therapy due to their location can now get the support they need from the caretaker of their choice.


Substance abuse patients might have trouble fitting therapy sessions into their routine. However, routine is crucial in addiction treatment, allowing patients to return to their daily lives.

For this reason, the flexibility of teletherapy can make a significant difference compared to regular traditional therapy. It allows patients to care for their mental well-being without significantly altering their daily schedule.


Many addiction patients shy away from traditional therapy due to the associated stigma. Having to sit in busy waiting rooms, visit rehabilitation clinics, and deal with numerous workers before getting care can be rather stressful.

Instead, teletherapy is a completely private experience. The only individuals that patients need to interact with are non-judgmental, trained professionals who understand the pain of substance abuse.

Continuity of Care

Whether there’s a health crisis, such as COVID-19, a personal issue, or a financial problem, patients can still get the same therapy treatment regardless of the circumstances.

That’s because teletherapy is 100% remote. Patients also find teletherapy cheaper, as they don’t need to pay for transportation or take time off work.

Potential Challenges and Concerns

Unfortunately, teletherapy has its limitations, such as the following:

Technical Issues

Technology isn’t perfect. Some therapists might struggle with an internet connection, and platforms often glitch. This can take away precious therapy time.

Furthermore, not all patients have access to the latest technology, especially those with lower incomes. Older patients might also struggle with using different online platforms.

Communication Barriers

In-person sessions provide a sense of intimacy that teletherapy can’t replicate. For starters, therapists and patients can make eye contact, making for more open communication.

Additionally, therapists can read body language and non-verbal cues, which can help them assess the state of the patient and provide better care.

Ensuring Confidentiality

Most online platforms require users to create accounts or use their phone numbers. They might also have to add a profile picture and use their real name.

While apps ensure user confidentiality, it’s virtually impossible to prevent others from accessing the profiles of patients and finding their private information.

Lack of Intensive Care

Since there’s a lack of communication with teletherapy, it’s hard to assess the exact needs of patients. Accordingly, therapists won’t be able to adequately help patients in need of intensive care.

Teletherapy Modalities in Addiction Treatment

There are numerous types of teletherapy modalities. Addiction patients can rely on one of them or all. These include:

Individual Sessions

Similar to in-person therapy, patients can get individual therapy sessions remotely, where therapists can employ the same treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, and medication follow-up.

Group Therapy

Peer support is crucial for addiction patients. They can gain the help of people with similar experiences and get inspired by patients who are further along in their treatment.

Family/Couple Therapy

Therapists can also dedicate a couple of teletherapy sessions to address relationship dynamics and educate family members on the condition of their loved ones.

Educational Webinars

Lastly, teletherapy is a great way to get education about addiction. Not all addiction patients can attend seminars, which usually disrupt their routine and require transportation. Instead, they can get the same knowledge and recovery tools from the comfort of their homes.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Teletherapy has different legal and ethical considerations than in-person therapy. In particular, teletherapy allows patients to connect with therapists across the country. So, caregivers must bear in mind the legal considerations of different states.

What’s more, protecting the privacy and information of patients relies completely on caregivers. Therapists need to conduct sessions from a private location and protect their devices from malicious software. This way, they reduce the risk of violating HIPAA guidelines.

Typically, patients need to sign a consent form, informing them of their rights during the sessions, and obtaining informed consent in a virtual environment can be tricky.

Choosing the Right Teletherapy Service

There are many teletherapy services online with countless therapists. Fortunately, most teletherapy applications include patient testimonials and reviews for each practitioner.

Additionally, each therapist will include their expertise and credentials on the online platform. You might also find videos of them online, so you’ll check out their communication style.

Though researching all the different apps and caregivers can take hours, it’s worth it, as patients will find a specialist who understands their needs.

Lastly, it’s crucial to read the privacy policies of all the online teletherapy platforms. Once you decide to start teletherapy, you should also implement technological security measures, such as using security software.


Teletherapy is one of the most popular treatment modalities at the moment. In the case of addiction treatment, teletherapy offers an array of benefits, such as accessibility and avoiding social stigma.

There might be some barriers to teletherapy, especially since there’s less intimacy and connection compared to traditional sessions. However, by following the latest virtual guidelines, therapists can overcome these issues.

If you’re looking for teletherapy options, you might easily feel overwhelmed by all the different options. Fortunately, a bit of research can go a long way.