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How Telehealth Helped Prevent Opioid Overdoses

by General Marketing

The covid-19 pandemic has altered the lives of all Americans since the beginning of 2020. For people with chronic illnesses, having limited access to healthcare during lockdown measures was a frightening and uncertain time. Thankfully, many medical facilities sprang into action by quickly implementing telehealth services available via phone, mobile phone apps, and computers.

Telehealth for Substance Use Disorder

A study by the JAMA Network discovered that remote services for opioid-related addiction disorders were particularly impactful and significantly lowered the odds of overdose while increasing patient retention using medication-assisted treatment.

  • 6% of study participants received OUD-related telehealth assistance, compared to the pre-pandemic group with only 0.6%
  • Beneficiaries were more likely to utilize virtual behavioral healthcare at a rate of 41% compared to only 1.9% in the pre-pandemic group.
  • 6% of pandemic beneficiaries had access to medications used for OUD like methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine, compared to 10.8% of the pre-pandemic participants.

Both study groups received about the same overdose-related care; however, the group using telehealth services showed increased odds of continuing the use of OUD mediations and lowered chances of future overdose.

Why Virtual Care is Vital

The US saw a significant jump in overdose deaths between 2020 and 2021, with an increase from 70,029 to 80,816 in just a single year. Because of the alarming rates of opioid overdoses and rising diagnoses of opioid use disorder, the DEA declared a public health emergency and relaxed certain regulations regarding medicines used to treat OUD that are considered controlled substances. This provided access to life-saving addiction treatment for patients using telehealth since doctors could prescribe MAT without physically meeting them.

Continuing virtual care can become essential in combating the ongoing opioid crisis in America by making it easier to ask for help. Although methadone clinics and outpatient offices provide addiction treatment for many in more densely populated areas, telehealth can assist those in rural areas who lack transportation to visit their medical provider regularly. Those sparsely populated areas were some of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic decades ago and are still struggling to recover.

Having almost instant access to medical providers specializing in addiction also eliminates some of the anxiety, shame, and fear people experience when contemplating asking for help. Virtual appointments can be made easily, and video or phone chats are done in private, where patients can feel safe and outside of an environment where they fear they will be judged or recognized.

Research shows that people with substance use disorder can greatly increase their chances of achieving long-term recovery with medication-assisted treatment and substance use counseling. HCRC provides telehealth and in-person opioid addiction treatment programs using evidence-based methods with FDA-approved medications. Many different insurance plans are accepted, as well as a sliding payment scale for those without coverage. To learn more about the intake process and programs available, message or call a nearby HCRC location today and speak with knowledgeable and compassionate administrative staff who are ready to help.

Medically Reviewed By:

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at Health Care Resource Centers is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. HCRC is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing addiction treatment services for over 32 years in the New England area.

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