Online Alcohol Counseling: Pros And Cons Of Virtual Rehab

With new technology and growing interest, it is now possible to find alcohol counseling online in a virtual setting. This type of addiction treatment can be convenient and effective for some people, however, online treatment may not be for everyone.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


With the introduction of online alcohol counseling, people have been able to access substance abuse treatment in ways like never before.

It is important to note, however, that online alcohol rehab is not necessarily a good fit for everyone. There are other forms of alcohol treatment that may be more effective in-person.

This is especially those who need one-on-one attention on a very frequent basis, or those who are experiencing heavy withdrawal symptoms and cravings due to alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Services Offered In Online Alcohol Counseling Programs

Even in online alcohol counseling, you will still find some of the same basic treatment options that are offered in either outpatient rehab or inpatient rehab.

Patient Evaluation

Every alcohol addiction program, online or in-person, will start with an extensive evaluation of the person’s mental health and any existing substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders.

This is done to help determine the level of alcoholism present and thus the amount of and types of care that would be best.

Treatment Plan Development

After your evaluation is complete, you can start to work on developing a telemedicine treatment plan with your assigned counselor or treatment provider.

While developing your treatment plan, your provider will help you determine how often you need treatment and what types of counseling would be best for your mental health situation.

They will also decide if you need any additional services or recovery support, such as an intensive outpatient program.


The main and most important aspect of a telehealth rehab program is having access to substance abuse counseling from the comfort of your home.

With some programs, you may even have 24/7 access to a counselor, no matter when you find yourself in need of mental health assistance.

You will likely even have multiple lines of communication with your counselor, such as phone calls, video chats, and texting.

Group Therapy

Some recovery programs may offer access to online group therapy sessions. While this was more popular during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine group therapy programs have become more widely available in recent months.

In fact, the pioneer alcohol recovery group, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), offers in-person, telehealth, and phone meetings for group support in recovery.

Pros Of Virtual Rehab

Telehealth services offer a lot of flexibility and convenience to those who need it most.

In some cases, a virtual drug addiction treatment program may be the only kind of substance abuse treatment a person has access to. Other pros include the following.

Easily Accessible

Online therapy can give access to treatment to people who otherwise may have no access to healthcare, either because they have no transportation or because they live too far away from a treatment facility.

Virtual rehab also tends to offer much more affordable pricing than in-person rehab, especially for people with no health insurance.


Research has shown that people in general feel more comfortable opening up to an online counselor.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding addiction and mental health, and a virtual setting can make many people more comfortable.

There is also evidence that people are more likely in general to attend online counseling sessions instead of canceling as they might have done with an in-person appointment.

Individualized Services

Virtual rehab can be an effective option for someone who is looking for a specific kind of therapy or counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.

Many telehealth counseling programs may also offer more individualized care, tailoring treatment programs to your needs.

In regular outpatient care, you will not necessarily have a choice in your individualized treatment and might instead be subject to whatever is being offered in support groups on a particular day.

Cons Of Virtual Rehab

While virtual rehab has much to offer in the way of flexibility and convenience, it can be lacking in other important areas of care.

Miscommunication Between Client And Therapist

While having more lines of communication can be beneficial in many ways, it also allows for a higher risk of miscommunication between clients and clinicians.

Furthermore, with online rehab, which often includes visits that are done over the phone, both the client and therapist could potentially miss out on important body language cues that can be vital in certain situations.

Lack Of Diagnostic Capability

With virtual rehab, you will not have access to a thorough physical examination provided by healthcare professionals the way you would at an in-person treatment center.

This includes the blood testing that normally starts any alcohol detox program and helps to determine the level of alcohol present.

Risks Of Finding A Disreputable Counselor

The application and employment process for online substance abuse counselors may not be as extensive as it is for in-person treatment facilities.

As a result, your chances of ending up with a disreputable counselor may be greater with an online rehab program.

Medication Cannot Be Prescribed Online

Detoxing from alcohol often requires the use of medications in order to ease withdrawal symptoms and make the person going through it more comfortable and less likely to relapse.

With an online rehab program, you most likely will not have access to these medications, as they cannot be prescribed virtually. For this reason, virtual rehab is not a good fit for people in need of medication-assisted treatment.

Treatment Programs For Alcohol Addiction

If you end up deciding that online alcohol abuse counseling is not the right choice for you, you still have options. These may include outpatient or inpatient treatment.

In these programs, you can expect to find such treatment services as:

  • behavioral therapy
  • family therapy
  • group therapy
  • 12-step programs
  • medically monitored alcohol detox
  • medication management
  • peer support
  • relapse prevention training

Find Drug And Alcohol Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we understand that making the decision for yourself or a loved one to enter substance abuse treatment can be easier said than done.

Our trauma-informed approach to treating substance abuse disorders has proven to be highly successful in treating both a person’s addiction and any underlying mental health issues as well.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us through our helpline today.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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