Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, has been an ongoing problem in the nation for some time now.  America is currently experiencing what is the worst substance abuse problem that it has ever seen before. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our country is the number one in the world when it comes to addiction problems, and the Office of the President of the United States issued a statement last year declaring the drug problem as, “One of the top ten greatest concerns of the United States.Telehealth offers 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 confront and address the nation’s drug and alcohol addiction problem,  Health professionals and policymakers think that using telemedicine to connect patients with addiction specialists and rehab centers will help solve 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 behind Telehealth is to create some referral network for addicts so 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 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.

How Does it Work for Addicts?

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 was from a friend or relative, and not from a drug dealer (53.7 percent), and about one-third misused a prescription from one doctor. A little less than 1 in 20 people who abused pain relievers bought the last pain reliever they misused from a drug dealer or stranger, and 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 severe and dangerous issues.  The idea is that if addicts can find the help that they need and find the help that they need more easily, then it’s likely that these issues will become less of a problem because there will be fewer people abusing drugs and alcohol.

The ultimate goal and the final address needs to, of course, be with the help of inpatient drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers.  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 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 indeed, and it will be achieved if rehabilitation and intervention are utilized.

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