Addiction Treatment Turns to Telehealth
A study published in JAMA Network Open revealed that there was a significant increase in insured adults, particularly younger individuals, participating in overall and telehealth-enabled addiction treatment after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This rise coincided with a wide shift to virtual care modalities during the pandemic. Researchers used data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, evaluating addiction treatment utilization before and after the pandemic’s onset. They found that treatment initiation rates increased across all age, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status subgroups, except for patients aged 50 and older. In 2020, 27.7% of patients with drug use issues engaged in treatment, up from 25.2% in 2019. Moreover, the odds of using telehealth for addiction treatment surged from 7.4% in 2019 to 45.9% in 2020, with the most significant increases among those aged 18 to 34. The researchers found no evidence that disparities in addiction treatment worsened, suggesting telehealth could be an effective care modality. The study supports prior research showing the success of telehealth in treating addiction disorders.