New Online Addiction Treatment Program Brings Hope to Virginians Lacking Access to Quality Care

smart IOP is the first online intensive outpatient program to treat drug and alcohol addiction licensed by the State of Virginia and covered by major health insurance providers.

Drug and alcohol addiction are reaching epidemic proportions nationally, and Virginia and its neighboring states are far from immune to the crisis. Nationally, the drug overdose death rate was 14.7 per 100,000 in 2014, with 10 states reporting more than 20 deaths per 100,000, according to 24/7 Wall St. and data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. West Virginia, which has the worst overdose rate in the country, witnessed a 473 percent increase in drug deaths between 2004 and 2014, and Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for drug fatalities.

While heroin and opioid overdoses account for the majority of drug-related deaths, alcohol dependency affects an alarming number of Virginians, according to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services. Its October 2015 Biennial Report on Substance Abuse Services provided data that showed that nearly 20 percent of all Virginians ages 12-25 suffer from alcohol dependence. Proportionately, this troubled population lives mostly in the western counties of the state. These areas also report the greatest number of individuals needing but not receiving treatment for alcohol addiction.


TREATING ADDICTION WITH INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT THERAPY

There are a variety of treatment options for overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs, including support groups, outpatient therapy, residential treatment programs and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). IOPs, which are typically completed before or after a traditional residential 30-day rehab program, include counseling to address co-occurring mental health issues.

IOPs are recognized by the courts and insurance companies as being more effective than outpatient therapy alone. In fact, judges often use IOPs in sentencing to reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses, and many insurance companies require participation in an IOP before paying for a 30-day residential rehabilitation program. The National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also cite IOPs as being highly effective.

But while the efficacy of IOPs is largely recognized, individuals in underserved areas may find it challenging to access this kind of program.

It’s very difficult for people in the rural counties of Virginia, for example, to attend IOPs because of the distance they need to travel to get to a town or the location of a meeting,” says Dr. Stephen Adams, smart IOP Program Director. “Work schedules often overlap meetings, and single parents struggle with finding childcare during sessions that can last three hours a night and four nights a week.”

Adams is part of the treatment team at Williamsville Wellness, a residential and outpatient provider of addiction treatment based just north of Richmond in Hanover County. The team has had much success with its traditional intensive outpatient program and wanted to serve more patients, especially those who have had difficulty accessing the Richmond-based program. “We’ve developed smart IOP, an online treatment platform, to replicate our existing program but add the convenience of online availability,” says Adams. “We believe this program will give intensive outpatient treatment to a large number of people who otherwise would not be able to get treatment for their addictions.”

Currently, smart IOP is the only online intensive outpatient program for alcohol and drug addiction licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS).


USING ONLINE EDUCATIONAL TRAINING, ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS AND SMART SPONSORS TO ADDRESS ADDICTION

smart IOP is a six- to 12-week online program that is designed to be accessible via a computer or mobile device at the convenience of the participant’s schedule. smart IOP works well with all devices, operating systems and web browsers: A secure high-speed internet connection and a camera are all that is required to access private video-teleconferencing sessions. For those who are uncomfortable with setting up, accessing or using the online platform, 24/7 technical support is offered at no additional charge.

The online program features the same content as the Williamsville Wellness traditional IOP program, and it is administered by licensed therapists, psychologists, social workers, substance abuse counselors and/or residents in counseling.

We find that the traditional IOP we use at Williamsville Wellness has a much higher completion rate and a much lower relapse rate because we generically educate the patient on addiction while we take them through a lengthy one-on-one therapy schedule,” explains Adams. “Our smart IOP model mirrors our traditional IOP, which provides twice as much one-on-one therapy as equivalent programs.”

smart IOP requires patients to commit approximately 10-12 hours a week to treatment, which includes viewing online educational materials, attending meetings, filing various progress reports and participating in one-on-one video chats with the treatment team.

The video chat platform is similar to Skype,” says John Cabaniss, Head of Innovation for smart IOP. “The online platform is HIPAA compliant and meets a high security standard for data transfer. Everything is securely exchanged.”

A key component of smart IOP is the assignment of a smart Sponsor. The smart Sponsor is typically a friend or family member who assists the patient throughout the entire program. (Learn more.) The only offline portion of the program is a required weekly support group meeting, which the smart Sponsor is also required to attend.

To summarize, with smart IOP, addiction patients can achieve sobriety through a proven model based on addiction education and one-on-one therapy. The online component of the program means they have the flexibility to attend to other priorities during the intensive process, and the involvement and proximity of a smart Sponsor will help ensure long-term sobriety.

smart IOP Program Steps

  1. smart Sponsor Selection
  2. smart IOP Technology Setup
  3. Online Treatment
  4. Weekly Support Group Meetings
  5. Progress Tracking and Completion



FIRST ONLINE IN-NETWORK PROGRAM LICENSED IN VIRGINIA

smart IOP is currently accepted as an in-network service for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance cardholders. Other providers will be announced soon.

Visit smartIOP.com to learn more about the program. Or call 1-833-810-8001 if you live outside of Virginia to find out if the program license is honored in your state or to speak to a smart IOP staff member.

About Stephen R. Adams, Ph.D., LPC, CRC, IOP Director, Williamsville Wellness

Dr. Stephen R. Adams is the Intensive Outpatient Program Director at Williamsville Wellness, and brings 17 years of experience working with and running various IOP programs in 3 different states. Originally from southwest Georgia, Dr. Adams is a licensed professional counselor and a certified rehabilitation counselor with many years of experience in substance abuse and mental health counseling. 

Dr. Adams utilizes a holistic and comprehensive approach to substance abuse treatment and counseling, recognizing the importance of identifying and processing all contributing factors in the complex relationship between substance abuse and mental health.

About smart IOP and Williamsville Wellness

The mission of Williamsville Wellness is to provide holistic, individualized treatment that offers hope and recovery for the individual addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs, and to the individual with an Impulse Control Disorder. We believe that with the integration of mental health therapy, physical therapies and other holistic interventions, an individual can gain freedom from alcoholism and specific Impulse Control Disorders and have a positive regard for life and recovery. Williamsville Wellness is a client-centered program based on respect and compassion for each individual.

Our smart IOP program was developed to provide an intensive outpatient treatment program to those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction in underserved areas of Virginia. This online program is the first to be licensed by the State of Virginia and covered by several major health insurance providers. For more information, visit smartIOP.com or call 1-833-810-8001.

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