Telehealth in Texas for Addiction and Mental Health
Telehealth is a viable option for a range of both medical and mental health conditions, including addiction treatment and recovery. Explore Texas telehealth regulations, services, and online drug and alcohol treatment options.
American Addiction Centers provides telehealth services in several states including Texas. Explore Telehealth Options.
What is Telehealth?
Definitions for the term “telehealth” vary based on organizations, state regulations, providers, and more. While telehealth broadly refers to health or medical care provided through electronic means (e.g., phone calls, video chats, apps, web-based platforms, etc.), multiple terms are used interchangeably with “telehealth.” 1 Examples include:1
- Digital health.
- Direct-to-consumer telehealth platforms.
So the word “telehealth” may mean slightly different things to different people and organizations. But broadly speaking and for the purpose of this content, telehealth allows people to receive healthcare (often including mental health and addiction- and recovery-related services) via phone, messaging, and video.2
Once a patient is diagnosed (which may also be accomplished via telehealth in some instances), a host of health conditions can be managed with telehealth—e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, prenatal care/postpartum support, asthma, and more.2
However, telehealth is also vital in providing mental health and substance misuse treatment and support. Services can help people trying to cope with a serious mental illness, a substance use disorder (SUD), or co-occurring disorders of both mental illness and substance use. 3
What are the Benefits of Telehealth Care in Texas?
Telehealth has several potential benefits for those in Texas and elsewhere. Beyond convenience and efficiency, it can increase access to treatment, which may benefit the millions of people who have a substance use disorder but have yet to seek treatment.
According to U.S. data from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2021, 46 million people aged 12 or older (16.5% of the U.S. population) had a substance use disorder in the past year (including 29.5 million with an alcohol use disorder and 24 million with a drug use disorder).4 However, during that same year, only 4.12 million individuals aged 12 and older received treatment for alcohol or drug use.5
Along with potentially increasing access to treatment, the possible advantages of telehealth include:6
- Limited exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases.
- Less time and/or money needed for: child and/or elder care, time off work and away from family, and/or transportation.
- Shortened wait times for appointments in some cases.
- Expanded access to nonlocal specialists.
Indeed, telehealth is a viable option for multiple reasons. In fact, according a 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37% of U.S. adults used telemedicine in the past 12 months.7
And according to nonprofit data firm Fair Health, mental health conditions account for a significant amount of telehealth visits. Info from its Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker indicates that in December 2022, psychotherapy accounted for the largest percentage (22.8%) of telehealth-related procedure codes, and mental health conditions made up 52.8% of all telehealth diagnoses.8
Texas Telehealth Laws and Regulations
Many laws and regulations regarding telehealth sprang up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, which opened the door for sweeping regulatory expansion to utilize telehealth further. Similarly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) modified regulations that enhanced treatment availability through telehealth.1
Like the federal government, individual states employed statutes, regulations, and emergency orders to expand telehealth during the crisis. For example, many states enacted or expanded coverage to ensure that telehealth services were covered by private insurance companies.1 And while some stipulations may have been rolled back as pandemic issues have eased, many remain in place today.
It’s important to note that confidentiality regulations remain in effect. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) carries stiff penalties for providers, insurance carriers, and other entities who inappropriately share your information. That privacy is protected through all modes of telehealth treatment, whether by phone, text, and/or video conferencing.9
Current Texas regulations stipulate that telehealth services must be provided on the same basis and to the same extent that a health benefit plan provides for service in an in-person setting. Additionally, plans can’t exclude a preferred or contracted provider solely because the service isn’t provided in person.10
Texas telehealth and telemedicine services are defined and regulated by various state statutes, such as the following related to behavior analysts:11
- Texas Administrative Code §121.10 lays out all relative definitions.
- Texas Administrative Code §121.70 outlines license holders’ administrative practice responsibilities.
- Texas Administrative Code §121.71 proscribes the professional practice responsibilities of license holders.
When it comes to Texas telehealth and insurance, most insurance plans cover at least some portion of telehealth services, as does Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare (a health program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families). However, since plans and state laws vary widely, the best way to know whether addiction-related telehealth is covered and/or how much it costs is to verify your insurance.
Online Prescribing Regulations in Texas
While each state has its own requirements regarding the use of technology when prescribing, most only require an online questionnaire to establish a patient-provider relationship. This relationship, then, is necessary to prescribe online in most states. Additionally, some states require an in-person exam prior to prescribing, but others allow the use of telehealth to conduct an exam.12
In Texas, practitioners must comply with the same standards of care as an in-person visit, including prescribing controlled medications. Additionally, the state outlines a handful of additional requirements in order to be considered a valid practitioner-patient relationship.122
Types of Telehealth Services in Texas
Telehealth services range from general practitioner visits to highly specialized follow-ups. Here’s a smattering of telehealth medical services available:6
- Urgent care issues (e.g., colds, coughs, and stomach bugs).
- Prescription management.
- Recurring conditions (e.g., migraines, urinary tract infections).
- Results of lab tests and/or X-rays.
- Post-surgical follow-ups.
- Physical and occupational therapy.
Additionally, telehealth can be employed for a variety of mental health services, including:6,13
- Addiction and recovery treatment.
- Mental health screening.
- One-on-one and group therapy.
- Text therapy.
- Medication prescribing.
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders.
- Medication monitoring.
- Anxiety and depression monitoring.
- Aftercare planning and case management.
- Treatment and follow-up appointments for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Telehealth Resources in Texas
So how do you find a telehealth provider in Texas? Referrals from the following are key sources of information.
- Primary healthcare providers.
- Insurance providers.
- County or state health departments.
In addition, the following sources provided by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can help you locate a Texas telehealth provider and/or assist you in getting the care you need:
- Virtual Recovery Resources.
- 1-800-662-HELP (4357) Helpline for Mental and/or Substance Abuse.
American Addiction Centers’ Telehealth in Texas
One way to simplify your search for Texas telehealth drug and alcohol treatment is simply to contact American Addiction Centers (AAC). Located near Dallas, AAC’s Greenhouse Treatment Center offers telehealth rehab services.
The process at Greenhouse begins with your consent to receive treatment remotely. You then receive a unique access code to use each time you sign on for treatment, followed by an email invite to begin sessions on your phone or computer.
After initial assessments, Greenhouse offers:
- Therapy sessions and groups.
- Psychoeducational groups on various topics such as relapse prevention.
- Family sessions.
- Case management services (e.g., aftercare planning).
- Weekly check-ins (for partial hospitalization program patients).
- Medical follow-up appointments and discussions about individual medical concerns.
Once again, telehealth coverage varies according to insurance plans, state and local regulations, and even your state of residence. However, our admissions navigators can not only verify your insurance and help you understand telehealth offerings but also answer your treatment questions and help you identify the best treatment option for your unique needs.