All treatment providers we recommend are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or Care Inspectorate.
Online rehab involves getting treatment for addiction remotely. It can be used for substance or behavioural addictions.
This style of treatment is also available for people with non-addiction-related mental health issues, in the form of online therapy.
Video calling is a very common way to deliver teletherapy as it enables clients to see the medical professionals who are treating them, which fosters trust.
It’s also preferable for the rehab staff to be able to see their patients, as they can monitor their physical wellbeing to an extent.
However, many other forms of communication are used, including apps and phone calls (1). This makes teletherapy accessible to a wide range of people, particularly in terms of location (you can register with a rehab in another city or country without having to move).
On the other hand, this type of rehab has been criticised for lacking in privacy (2).
It’s much harder for patients to have confidential conversations with rehab staff when their family or friends may be nearby, and there is always a risk of hacking.
Technological difficulties are another flaw of teletherapy, and this can interrupt the flow of sessions.
We have already discussed the benefit of accessibility, but the pros of online rehab don’t end there.
One advantage is that it is often one of the most affordable treatment types as the organisation does not have to house patients for one month or pay for a building for outpatient sessions.
While some treatments are shut off to people on a low income, online rehab is closing this gap.
Another benefit is that it doesn’t require the same level of commitment as certain types of addiction treatment. Being able to join online sessions from home means that people don’t necessarily have to book a full month off work, organise childcare etc.
Finally, plenty of studies show that teletherapy is often just as effective as in-person therapy (3).
Though this is just one aspect of online rehab, it shows that treating patients online does not necessarily increase the risk of relapse.
In terms of the stages of treatment, virtual rehab is very similar to inpatient rehab. Initial assessments will be made to decide upon the appropriate types of treatment. An individualised treatment plan will then be made for each patient.
There is still the option of a drug or alcohol detox, therapy, and then aftercare. If the patient requires a detox, arrangements are made for this to take place at their home.
However, everyday life in online rehab looks very different to life at residential rehab. It is a much more independent experience as patients are not supervised 24/7, and they only socialise with others during calls.
Most people would agree that online rehab is the less intense option of the two. Without constant supervision and sessions that take place all day every day, there is usually more time for rest with virtual rehab.
However, it depends on the programme. Certain online rehabs will have a strict schedule that is just as time-consuming as in-person treatment. If you don’t leave time to rest at the end, the experience could end up being more intense.
That said, there is no commute to worry about (unlike outpatient rehab) and no initial travel to consider (unlike inpatient rehab).
Neither option is ‘better’ than the other – online rehab is a huge success for some people with addiction, yet ineffective for others.
Most people have a lower relapse risk if they go to inpatient rehab. As the temptation is so strong with addiction, 24/7 care works well to help people stay sober. This means the majority of people should prioritise investigating local rehabs before considering going online.
However, there are plenty of stories of people recovering successfully online. One of the unique benefits is that it allows patients to be more be anonymous (4).
For this reason, while online rehab may come with privacy concerns, in a lot of ways, it’s more private than residential rehab.
Just like in-person rehab, the costs of online rehab vary drastically depending on the provider. There are many different aspects to consider, which all come with a cost. Each provider will have their own charge for:
Most organisations offer packages, such as a month-long online rehab course that encompasses some or all of the above services. Keep in mind that not all providers offer home detoxes, so this is something to keep in mind as you research different treatment options.
This depends on the length of the course you choose. Longer courses are preferable as they tend to have lower relapse rates.
Some companies allow you to pay for one-off sessions of online rehab. We would discourage this in most cases, as people with addiction need long-term treatment if they want to stay sober permanently.
Online rehab is usually more flexible than residential rehab, so you could still make time for other things in life while you recover. For example, you may have staggered video calls throughout the day, giving you time for things like life admin.
Please be careful as you navigate this balance, as your main focus should be on recovery from addictions. It’s easy to forget this when you aren’t in a residential setting, but this is one of the main mistakes people make that leads to relapse.
Yes, online rehab is perfectly safe provided that:
If you go with the first virtual rehab you see, there is no guarantee that it will be safe. It’s important to stick to high-quality facilities with fantastic reputations.
Attending virtual rehab when you are in need of 24/7 supervision is also unsafe. As there is no one to keep track of your health and progress at all times, you could end up relapsing in a dangerous way if your addiction is too severe for online treatment.
Some online rehab facilities offer home detoxification. This means they provide you with the resources to withdraw from drugs or alcohol at home, as well as ongoing support as you navigate the symptoms.
Medication is usually offered as part of this, which reduces the likelihood of serious withdrawals occurring. However, there is always a safety net for this – you will be provided with helpline numbers, and of course advised to call 999 in an emergency.
If you live alone, you aren’t a suitable candidate for home detoxification. You need to have the support of loved ones or close friends, as detoxing is an intense process that can be uncomfortable, painful, and distressing.
As online rehabs can employ therapists from anywhere, the diversity of therapy is excellent. All types of therapy you have heard of will be available as part of online rehab, but it’s a case of finding out which therapies are offered by which companies.
12-step therapies encourage patients to accept their addiction as a disease that they must learn to manage (5). This philosophy is present in many self-help groups, including SMART Recovery, Narcotics Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous. However, it is also a therapy model in itself.
During 12-step therapy, there is an emphasis on taking responsibility for the things you can control. You cannot control the existence of your addiction, but you can control your response to it.
CBT is often used in online rehab as there are plenty of wonderful therapists who are trained in this therapy model.
Compared to some individual therapies, CBT could be seen as a ‘logical’ therapy. It’s all about observing your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and linking this to your addiction.
This type of addiction therapy is similar to couple’s counselling, but with more of a structure. It’s designed to help couples navigate addiction together, and grow closer as a result.
As the effects of addiction are often clearly felt by the partner of the drug user, it’s important for them to be able to express their feelings in the context of therapy. Equally, the person with addiction has an opportunity to share their experience, which fosters mutual empathy.
People with addiction are proven to recover more successfully when they spend time discussing their addiction in a group setting. It helps to increase self-esteem, develop trust, and offer suggestions for improvement.
As there is a therapist leading each session, the discussions that take place are often extremely insightful. The therapist can interrupt when the conversation is no longer helpful to ensure the sessions are as smooth and effective as possible.
This is simply any therapy that involves the patient talking to a therapist on their own, as opposed to in a group or with their family/spouse. It’s perfect for privacy, as no one is listening in on the conversation.
There is also an opportunity to dive into drug or alcohol addictions completely – unlike group therapies, there is no need to consider the experiences of others in the room, so it’s all about the patient. Often, patients learn a lot about how to manage their illness as a result of the one-to-one attention they get in these meetings.
Families can get addiction therapy to learn how to manage their loved one’s addiction within their home. It allows each individual to share their own pain regarding the addiction, and to understand how their other family members have been impacted.
Many of our FAQs about virtual rehab revolve around specific addictions. For example:
The answer to these questions is very similar. To give up drugs with an online rehab programme, the first step is to sign up. When you’re ready to leave cocaine, alcohol, cannabis or gambling in the past, find a great virtual rehab and enquire about their programmes.
The rehab centre will tell you all you need to know about getting sober from your particular addiction. This includes whether you need a detox, how long it will take, which types of therapy you can try, and how to stay sober after rehab.
Yes, many virtual rehabs offer aftercare. We encourage you to have this as a minimum requirement, as you will need support as you navigate life after rehab.
Most aftercare programmes last for one year, which means you won’t have to tackle sobriety completely independently until one year after rehab. Even then, you will have hopefully built a solid support system in the form of family, friends, therapists, and self-help groups.
Our referrals to rehab facilities are faster than you could imagine. If we find a programme with spaces, we could get you referred today.
 Continuation of Teletherapy After the COVID-19 Pandemic: Survey Study of Licensed Mental Health Professionals https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9162131/#:~:text=Teletherapy%20refers%20to%20the%20use,typically%20across%20distances%20%5B8%5D
 Psychology at a Distance: Examining the Efficacy of Online Therapy https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1343&context=honorstheses
 How the Pandemic Led to the Rise of Virtual Rehab https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-the-pandemic-led-to-the-rise-of-virtual-rehab
 12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753023/