Telehealth makes substance use treatment more accessible in North Lake Tahoe

Submitted to the Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — For individuals with a substance use disorder, from drugs to alcohol, timely access to treatment is crucial to recovery. Three feet of snow, road closures and howling winds, though, can complicate things.

A new pilot with a telehealth company has expanded substance use disorder treatment options across low-access regions of Placer County but especially in North Lake Tahoe, where dual challenges of harsh weather and provider staffing have historically been barriers to treatment accessibility. 

In April, Placer County’s Adult System of Care contracted with Recover Medical Group, which specializes in telehealth substance-use services. To date, the program has served 30 clients in the North Tahoe area, offering both standard and intensive outpatient treatment. Soon they will also offer treatment for Placer County youth. These services are available to Placer residents who receive Medi-Cal.

“We’ve had telehealth options for mental health for some time yet this is the first time we’ve had such an option for substance use treatment,” said Adult System of Care Director Amy Ellis. “We’ve heard positive feedback from clients who’ve been able to achieve sustainable recovery.”

National studies have shown that increased telehealth services during the pandemic successfully kept individuals in treatment longer and prevented opioid-related deaths.

“Some clients prefer telehealth. For some, it’s a necessity because they can’t go to treatment in person,” said program supervisor Daniel Apgar, referencing some with disabilities or other barriers. Recover also offers language options when needed. 

“It’s been great being able to bring these services to the Tahoe area and the rest of the county,” said Recover CEO Nick Gulino. “Being able to become a part of the community has been instrumental in building trust and success for our patients. We’re thrilled with the work we’ve been able to do, and are looking forward to continuing to support anyone in the county who may need help.”

The Adult System of Care provides a wide array of substance use services depending on individual needs, including residential treatment, outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment, residential withdrawal management (detoxification), case management, recovery services, physician consultation and medication assisted treatment. To connect with the county’s 24-hour intake line and access services, call 1-888-886-5401. North Tahoe residents have access to the broader network of services in Placer County through this line.

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