Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Last year, opioids — such as fentanyl, heroin, morphine, and oxycodone — contributed to an estimated 80,000 deaths across the country.
For people who develop an addiction to opioids, it is often difficult to seek help and stay in treatment. VA provides a wide range of addiction treatment options, including using telehealth to help Veterans access and remain in the care they need. Remote care removes transportation issues, which can be a huge help to Veterans who live in rural areas or don’t have access to a car.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Allison Lin, an addiction psychiatrist at Ann Arbor VA in Michigan, conducted a national study on how VA telehealth helped Veterans with opioid use disorder (OUD) get treatment. When some restrictions on remote care were relaxed during the pandemic, Lin said, it became clear that telehealth visits were vital to Veterans with OUD. This includes Veterans who are particularly underserved, such as Veterans with housing instability or those experiencing multiple mental health and medical issues.
“Telehealth really helped a very complex patient population stay on a lifesaving treatment.”