During the current coronavirus disease 2019 epidemic, many outpatient chemical dependency treatment programs and clinics are decreasing their number of in-person patient contacts. This has widened an already large gap between patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) who need treatment and those who have actually received treatment. For a disorder where group therapy has been the mainstay treatment option for decades, social distancing, shelter in place, and treatment discontinuation have created an urgent need for alternative approaches to addiction treatment. In an attempt to continue some care for patients in need, many medical institutions have transitioned to a virtual environment to promote safe social distancing. Although there is ample evidence to support telemedical interventions, these can be difficult to implement, especially in the SUD population. This article reviews current literature for the use of telehealth interventions in the treatment of SUDs and offers recommendations on safe and effective implementation strategies based on the current literature.
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