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Online Rehab: Is Going to a Virtual Rehab an Option?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 15, 2024

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With the internet playing such a central role in daily life, it’s not surprising that online rehab is becoming more commonplace among those seeking addiction treatment.

As the pandemic, complicated access to treatment over the past few years, drug and alcohol rehab centers have increasingly offered addiction services online.

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With research showing that only 10% of those needing addiction treatment receive any form of therapy, online outpatient alcohol treatment and online substance abuse treatment could help plug this substantial treatment gap.

What Is Online Rehab?

Online rehabilitation refers to a specific form of telehealth providing addiction treatment services or programs through secure online platforms. All you’ll need is a stable internet connection and a computer, phone, or smart device.

Online addiction programs, just like traditional rehab programs, utilize a personalized range of counseling and behavioral interventions. By engaging with virtual rehab, you’ll equip yourself with the tools and skills needed to thrive in ongoing sober living.

Virtual rehab involves using Skype and other video conferencing applications to connect you with licensed, certified addiction specialists.

Many rehab centers providing virtual addiction treatment supplement these remote therapy sessions with around-the-clock support and interactive videos to enhance your recovery experience.

Online treatment programs can be used instead of face-to-face treatment, or they can be used to supplement outpatient treatment.

Virtual rehab works especially well in the following scenarios:

  • For those with physical limitations: It is commonplace for those with physical disabilities to become addicted to opioid painkillers used to treat the underlying chronic pain. With online rehab, there is no barrier to treatment.
  • For students: Online rehab allows students to engage with a therapist around a hectic academic schedule.
  • For those living in remote areas: For anyone living somewhere without quality addiction treatment centers, remote treatment widens the options for alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
  • For busy professionals: If it is impractical or impossible for you to take a month or more off work for a stint in residential rehab, virtual therapy sessions let you get the treatment you need with absolute discretion and scheduled around your existing professional commitments.

Online Drug Rehab

In the case of opioid use disorder and heroin use disorder, medication-assisted treatment can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. For most other drugs, though, there are currently no FDA-approved medications to streamline detox and withdrawal.

Online drug rehab allows anyone struggling with substance use disorder to get the counseling and psychotherapy required to build the firmest foundation for recovery.

Online rehab connects you to the same treatment team you would find in residential rehab or in an outpatient program. The only difference is that you will attend therapy sessions by video call rather than face-to-face.

As with any form of addiction treatment, you can always step up the continuum of care to a more intensive form of therapy if you find a virtual IOP doesn’t offer you enough support and structure.

Online Alcohol Treatment

The social acceptability of alcohol plays a role in many people developing alcohol use disorder before they fully understand they have a problem with drinking.

For many people with alcohol use disorder, denial is a symptom of this chronic brain disorder. Many reasons prevent people in need of treatment for alcoholism from receiving any treatment at all. The perceived stigma attached to formal addiction treatment is among these reasons, and online alcohol rehab removes any chance of others discovering that you are in addiction recovery. Instead, you can pursue the therapy you need with complete discretion.

If you have severe alcohol use disorder, medical detox is recommended to mitigate the potentially deadly side effects of alcohol withdrawal if delirium tremens (DTs) manifests. While delirium tremens affects only 5% of those detoxing from alcohol, the mortality rate for DTs is 37% when left untreated.

Data shows that intensive outpatient programs are just as effective as residential rehab for treating most mild and moderate alcohol use disorders. While there is not much hard data yet concerning the effectiveness of virtual IOPs, you will have access to the same counseling, psychotherapy, and services as you would find in a traditional IOP, so virtual alcohol rehab can be pivotal in your commitment to sustained sobriety.

An image of a person in online rehab

What to Expect from Virtual Rehab and Addiction Services Online

If you decide to pursue your recovery remotely, you can expect the following core services from online IOP:

  • Psychiatric care
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

Psychiatric care

Engaging with virtual rehab allows you to meet regularly with your treatment team to ensure all your mental health needs are being met.

Members of your treatment team are experienced in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of both substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.

If you require prescribed medications as part of your medication-assisted treatment for addiction, you will need to physically attend a treatment center at some point. Therapy can still be delivered remotely once you begin medication.

Individual therapy

Just like with inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, virtual rehab allows you to dive deep into the specifics of your alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder with a qualified therapist.

One-on-one virtual sessions also work well for treating any co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

Group therapy

Group therapy sessions form the core of online rehab for alcoholism and drug addiction.

These sessions involve conference calls with other members of the virtual rehab program and your treatment team.

Through group therapy sessions, you’ll benefit from the peer support of others grappling with addiction and dual diagnosis, and you’ll also strengthen your social connections, gaining access to a ready-made sober support network.

Family therapy

Addiction is a family disease, but the logistics of most traditional inpatient or outpatient rehab programs makes it challenging to integrate family therapy in all cases.

Remote rehab helps family members become more involved in your recovery, while you will learn how to communicate more effectively with your family members. Family therapy also equips you with conflict management skills so you can hopefully live with less acrimony and unresolved conflict moving forward.

An image of a person on a beach after online rehab

Getting Online Substance Abuse Treatment at Renaissance

Most people have experienced abnormal levels of stress due to the ongoing consequences of coronavirus. It’s no surprise that the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports a sharp increase in alcoholism (up from 14.5 million to 24.5 million adults in the US from 2019 to 2020) and drug addiction (up from 20 million to 40 million adults in the US in the same period).

If you are grappling with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, and if you are unable or unwilling to attend outpatient treatment, we can help you unchain yourself from addiction remotely here at Renaissance Recovery.

Choose to engage with our virtual IOP and you’ll enjoy access to the same array of evidence-based treatments offered through our outpatient programs without needing to leave home. Through individual and group counseling, talk therapy like CBT, and access to a mental health team, you can reap the benefits of rehab without many of the restrictions.

Reach out to our friendly and responsive team today to discuss personalizing virtual rehab. Call our addiction hotline today at 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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