Providing Online Therapy for Substance Abuse

Article written by Ryleigh Jeffers

Though in-office therapy is now more accessible and safe, it’s likely that online therapy is going to be a crucial part of the new normal. A report by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that more mental health professionals are treating via telehealth, since state governments, Medicare, and Medicaid allowed services to be expanded through virtual platforms. The APA also recognizes that telehealth breaks down common barriers to treatments, such as time, accessibility, and even the availability of mental health professionals.

Therapy via telehealth platforms is not just convenient and competitive, it’s also effective in improving the outcomes of individuals struggling with substance abuse. If you or your loved one is considering online therapy for substance abuse, here are the options that you can consider:

Individual Online Therapy

Individuals looking for an accessible and private treatment option may highly benefit from individual online therapy. These individual sessions will help you put an end to harmful actions by addressing any situational stressors, environmental triggers, and social cues that have caused the cycle of substance abuse.

In this therapy option, you’ll be working with an online therapist who will help you overcome cravings, prevent relapses, and start a new life. Telehealth platform Wheel describes an online therapist as a qualified mental health professional that conducts sessions using digital technologies. These professionals have to meet the prerequisite of using online therapy platforms that follow the security standards of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. As such, you can access their services through certified telehealth platforms.


Online Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a treatment that is designed to help people identify thought patterns that are influencing their urge for alcohol and other substances. Once these harmful thought patterns are recognized, qualified therapists will guide you in replacing them with ideas that encourage healthier behavior.

A review entitled telehealth cognitive behavioral therapy for substance abuse examined the efficiency of computer-based program CBT4CBT in preventing addiction. This program strengthens each users’ coping skills and executive cognitive control, allowing them to gain more control over their own cravings. Meanwhile, the review also assessed web-based relapse-prevention program Breaking Free Online, which provides cognitive restructuring for alcohol dependents. This strategy by Breaking Free Online was found to be effective in reducing alcohol addiction, since it focuses on eliminating dysfunctional beliefs that encourage unhealthy behavior.

Motivational Interviewing

Recognizing that individuals can have mixed feelings about recovery, motivational interviewing was created to ignite a patient’s desire to overcome their addiction and start healthy habits. People can be ambivalent regarding change, but this online therapy option will empower individuals to take charge of their own recovery.

Verywell Mind points out that since motivational interviewing was first introduced in the 1980s, you have to look for an online counselor that has been trained in the motivational interviewing approach. The health resource recommends calling your health insurance company or using their online search tool to find a trained counselor that your insurance can cover. 

Alternative Therapies

Everyone’s recovery journey is different, which is why alternative addiction recovery therapies have come to light as a more personalized approach for treatment. Some of these options are art therapy where the creative process is used to help people reflect on their personal experiences, while yoga therapy helps people improve their mental health through guided imagery and yoga postures.

Though these treatments can complement your recovery, our article on Alternative Recovery Methods emphasized that traditional treatment plans are more efficient in providing the skills that you need to combat substance abuse. While alternative therapies sound exciting, they’ll only be able to enhance your recovery if you already have all the tools needed for your recovery.

Online therapy is here to stay, especially since it plays a role in making mental healthcare more accessible. The range of therapy options listed above makes it clear that it’s possible to create a personalized plan that will bring you closer to recovery.

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