The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically transformed the healthcare landscape, including in addiction treatment. With social distancing, quarantine and stay-at-home measures in place, receiving necessary care was especially difficult for individuals with substance use disorder. Virtual and telehealth options, which had been in their infancy, leapt ahead providing access to addiction treatment services while mitigating the exposure risk.

As the pandemic subsided, these options have become permanent solutions, making care more accessible and breaking down some long-standing barriers.

Addiction treatment programs, like those provided by Plymouth House, offer the best chance for recovery. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. If you are experiencing barriers to care, be sure to ask about our virtual options that can provide you with treatment wherever you are. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more.

The Rise of Telehealth in Addiction Treatment

Recent years have seen a rapid expansion in the use of telehealth for addiction treatment. In the past decade, telehealth has emerged as a practical option for substance use disorder treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more and more addiction treatment centers to introduce virtual care as a substitute for face-to-face interaction. The convenience and flexibility offered by telehealth enables you to benefit from treatment in your own home or wherever else suits you.

Research has indicated that telehealth can help motivated patients prevent relapse, rendering the technology a critical tool for those grappling with addiction.

Benefits of Virtual Addiction Treatment

Virtual addiction treatment makes it easier for those in need to access care from anywhere, at any time. With virtual therapy, individuals can connect with a therapist or counselor through video conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. This eliminates the need for travel and allows individuals to receive treatment without having to leave their homes. Additionally, virtual addiction treatment programs provide 24/7 support services so that individuals have access to resources whenever they need them.


Virtual addiction treatment makes it easier for those in need to access care from anywhere, at any time. With virtual therapy, individuals can connect with a therapist or counselor through video conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. This eliminates the need for travel and allows individuals to receive treatment without having to leave their homes.


Virtual addiction treatment programs can be more affordable than in-person treatment. Many virtual programs offer sliding scale fees based on income level so that individuals can receive quality care without breaking the bank. Increasing numbers of insurance companies now cover some or all of the costs associated with virtual treatments, making them even more affordable for those who may not have the financial means otherwise.


When it comes to addiction treatment, privacy is a top concern for many. Telehealth services are no exception. There are several measures in place to protect the privacy of patients seeking virtual care. Therapists and healthcare providers must maintain their patients’ confidentiality and abide by the same privacy laws as traditional healthcare providers, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Telehealth services also use encryption technology to ensure conversations, video sessions, and medical records remain secure and unreadable by unauthorized people. Secure online platforms with end-to-end encryption guarantee the safety of patient data.

For added precaution, you can participate in telehealth sessions in a private area with no possibility of overheard conversations. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to protect the confidentiality of information exchanged.

Challenges & Limitations of Virtual Addiction Treatment

While virtual addiction treatment can break down many barriers to care, potential challenges and limitations may make it an undesirable method for some people.

Technological Factors

Technological factors can impede access to treatment for individuals living in remote areas or lacking reliable internet and technology.


One of the primary hurdles of virtual addiction treatment is the absence of face-to-face interaction. Remote therapy sessions may not provide the same support as in-person meetings. You may find it challenging to stay motivated during online sessions as opposed to traditional in-person meetings. They also may not offer necessary physical withdrawal symptom assistance or medical attention.

Efficacy of Telehealth & Virtual Addiction Treatment

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recognized telehealth as an evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders.

Studies have shown that teletherapy can provide the same level of support and guidance as face-to-face therapy sessions while allowing patients more flexibility and convenience when scheduling appointments. It is just as effective as traditional in-person treatment when it comes to preventing relapse.

Is Virtual & Telehealth Addiction Treatment as Effective as In-Person Treatment?

A 2021 study published in Psychiatry found that survey respondents were almost equally split. About 46% said individual telehealth counseling was equally or more effective than in-person, and 45% said it was less effective. This suggests that virtual addiction treatment can be as successful as traditional methods.

Virtual Recovery Support Groups as Alternatives to In-person 12-Step Meetings

When COVID-19 shut down in-person interactions, many 12-Step meetings went online to maintain support for those in recovery. As the pandemic eased, virtual meetings remained popular for those who were unable or unwilling to attend in-person meetings. As with everything, there are pros and cons to both types of gatherings.

In-Person Meetings

In-person meetings provide a sense of community and allow for face-to-face interaction between members. This connection can be especially beneficial if you are new to recovery or need additional support from your peers. These meetings often occur in familiar settings such as churches or community centers, which can help create a sense of comfort and safety.

But, in-person meetings require travel which can be difficult if you have limited mobility or transportation options. Attending an in-person meeting may not always feel safe due to the stigma associated with addiction or fear of judgment from others.

Virtual Meetings

Virtual recovery support groups offer convenience and accessibility that traditional 12-Step meetings cannot provide. You can join from anywhere at any time as long as you have an internet connection and a device to access the meeting (e.g., laptop, tablet, smartphone). They also allow for greater anonymity because you do not need to reveal your identity or location when joining a meeting online.

However, there are some downsides to virtual recovery support groups as well. Building relationships with others can be harder since there is no physical presence. Technical issues such as poor audio quality or slow internet connections may interfere with the flow of the meeting and make it difficult for you to participate fully.

Online Support Tools for Addiction Treatment

Addiction can seriously affect your mental and physical health, making it challenging to maintain a normal life. There are various resources available online that can provide affordable and accessible addiction treatment options, including:

  • Virtual support groups.
  • Online educational tools and resources.
  • Personalized therapy sessions.
  • Interactive tools and features like chatbots.

Virtual addiction treatment is a rapidly growing field, offering more convenient access to care for those struggling with substance use disorders. However, telehealth also presents unique legal and regulatory considerations that must be considered when providing this type of care.


Telehealth services for addiction treatment are licensed by various entities, depending on the state. Behavioral health professionals must be licensed in the state where they practice and may need additional licensure to provide telehealth services.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has issued guidance advocating for Congress and federal agencies to expand access to telehealth services for addiction treatment. Additionally, many states have waived certain licensure requirements in response to COVID-19, allowing out-of-state practitioners to provide telehealth services without additional licensure.


Confidentiality is important when providing telehealth services. Practitioners should be aware of any applicable laws or regulations regarding the disclosure of patient information in their state or jurisdiction. They also must ensure that all patient information is kept secure and confidential. This includes using secure video conferencing platforms and encrypting any data transmitted electronically.


Providers must also take steps to confirm the security of their systems when providing telehealth services. They must use secure networks and software and implement measures such as two-factor authentication for logging into systems remotely. Providers should also regularly update their systems with the latest security patches and antivirus software to protect against potential cyber threats.

It’s likely that virtual recovery services are here to stay due to their convenience and accessibility. However, you need to consider all options available before deciding which type of meeting best suits your needs and lifestyle.

We Are Here For You

Let Us Help You Heal

Our Drug & Alcohol recovery services are second to none.

Learn how we can help by speaking with one of our Treatment Advisors today.

Contact Us Today

Virtual and telehealth options have become viable resources for many who experience barriers to receiving care. But, no matter how services are delivered, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at The Plymouth House. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and skilled administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility if you choose to receive services in person. If virtual services are more attractive to you, we can tailor a program to meet your needs and suit your lifestyle. All you have to do is ask; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today.

Get Started Now
Give us a call 24/7
(888) 693-1927

The Plymouth House Logo
Russell Beebe

Reviewed for accuracy by:

Russell Beebe MLADC, LCMHC

Russell is a Master Level Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC) and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) with over 11 years experience treating individuals with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Russell was inspired to get into the field after his experience as a resident at The Plymouth House in 2008.