October 13, 2016
Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, has been an ongoing problem in the nation for some time now. This has been a crisis issue that has been going on and on for over a decade now with no perceived end or idea on when it will drop back or slow down. The United States has even experienced easily what is the worst substance abuse problem that it has ever seen before. The issue just keeps getting worse and worse and has shown no sign of getting any better any time soon. The nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is easily the number one nation in the world when it comes to addiction problems, and the Office of the President of the United States itself issued a statement last year declaring the drug problem as, “One of the top ten greatest concerns of the United States.”
Telehealth is a way to address and possibly prevent these issues once and for all. Telehealth is a collection of means or methods for enhancing health care, public health, and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies. Telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services.
This could be a way to really confront and address the nation’s drug and alcohol addiction problem and actually address it properly and handle it once and for all. Health professionals and policy makers alike, as well as a lot of other people, think that using telemedicine to connect patients with addiction specialists and rehab centers will help address the physician shortage in the nation right now. The potential direction is clear, as are the opportunities that could come from it as well. The idea here behind Telehealth is to create some kind of referral network for addicts so that they can find rehabilitation help as quickly as possible.
The Benefits of Using Programs Like Telehealth
Telehealth is an attempt to use technology and the information age to help addicts. Currently, there is a shortage of addiction treatment programs in the nation. The initiative comes as the nation’s addiction to prescription painkillers remains at epidemic levels according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In 2014 for example, the most recent year for which data is available in this arena, more than 14,838 people died from overdoses of drugs such as oxycodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also presented data on these issues. In Virginia alone, for example, about 4.6 percent of the state population (around 380,000 people), abused the drugs in 2015. Almost 600 people across the state died from prescription opioid overdoses between the start of 2015 and last March, according to the state medical examiner’s office that reports on these issues.
Telehealth hopes to help reduce all types of drug and alcohol addiction, but the one that needs to be addressed the most is prescription drug abuse. For example, among people of the age of 12 or older who misused pain relievers in the past year, the most common source for the last pain reliever that was misused was from a friend or relative actually, and not from a drug dealer (53.7 percent), and about one-third misused a prescription from one doctor and from one doctor’s alone. About a little less than 1 in 20 people who misused pain relievers bought the last pain reliever they misused from a drug dealer or stranger of some kind, the rest got the stuff from a friend, family member, loved one, or doctor.
Looking to Telehealth for the Future
The hope is that with Telehealth, some relief can come from these very serious and dangerous issues. The idea is that if addicts are able to find the help that they need and find the help that they need more easily then it’s very likely that these issues will become less of a problem because there will simply be less people abusing drugs and alcohol.
The ultimate goal and the final address needs to, of course, be with the help of inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations. These are the key approaches for those who are addicted, and Telehealth is only one of many different rehab programs that had as its goal finding such programs for people and getting them into such programs. Prevention is all fine and good, but if people do not actually go to rehab when they are addicted to drugs and alcohol then their issues will never really resolve and they will just continue to use and abuse drugs and find ways to get drugs into any given area. That is why prevention does not work unless it is used in conjunction with actual rehabilitation efforts.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) the addiction crisis in the United States will require everyone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol to enter into inpatient rehab centers if they want to get off of their drug problems. This is the needed and necessary approach certainly, and it will be achieved and it will be worked out properly if rehabilitation and intervention are utilized.