Telehealth Options for Alcohol Treatment
If you or a loved one needs help with an alcohol problem, you have several options beyond in-person care. You can access professional telehealth care by phone or video chat. You can take self-guided online programs to reduce or quit drinking. And you can attend online mutual-support groups. You might put together a care plan that combines some or all of these choices.
Telehealth Treatment by Health Care Professionals
Many health care professionals and programs have offered telehealth alcohol treatment for years. Now, since the pandemic, more providers are offering phone or video sessions. Medicare and other insurers have expanded coverage of telehealth services as well. Check with your insurance company about coverage.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) produced the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator® to help you find telehealth alcohol treatment by health care providers:
- Find treatment programs. Many programs are adding telehealth services. Instead of using the “telemedicine/telehealth” filter, contact programs of interest and ask about telehealth.
- Find therapists with addiction specialties.Most therapists listed are shifting to telehealth. Instead of using the “online/phone counseling” filter, contact those of interest and ask about telehealth.
- Find doctors with addiction specialties. Contact doctors you find to ask about telehealth services.
You can create a telehealth care team by combining a therapist with an addiction doctor for medications support.
Online Self-Guided Programs
Below are samples of e-health tools developed with NIAAA funding. Both of these fee-based, self-guided programs have a research base that shows their potential to help people cut down or quit drinking.
- CBT4CBTis an effective, interactive cognitive-behavioral program. It uses videos and exercises to teach seven skills to help people cut down or quit drinking. Any doctor or licensed therapist can prescribe it for you and monitor your progress.
- CheckUp & Choicesis a digital self-help program. It can help people to build the motivation and skills needed to change their drinking. This program includes an alcohol screener, feedback, options for making a change, and skills training for moderating drinking or abstaining.
Self-guided programs such as these can be added to an overall treatment plan led by a health care professional.
Online Mutual-Support Groups and Other Resources
Mutual-support groups can be particularly helpful during this challenging time. A growing number of groups have online communities. These groups can vary widely, so it's important to try different ones to find a good fit.
The Navigator can help you find some mutual-support groups to consider. You can find more recovery support options from the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s list of online support groups, apps, and podcasts. See also the tips and tools on NIAAA’s Rethinking Drinking website.
Online groups and apps can provide much-needed support, but some issues need the help of a professional. In these cases, see above to find telehealth options for professional care. And use the Navigator to choose quality care that is backed by science.
Visit the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator ® to find evidence-based alcohol treatment: alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov