ICYMI: Telehealth Helps Veterans’ Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Nov 10, 2023

Virtual Care is Making It Easier for Veterans to Access Critical, Potentially Life-Saving OUD Treatment.

In case you missed it, a recent article in the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ VA News highlighted the valuable role telehealth plays in opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment for Veterans. 

As VA News’ Gwen McMillian writes, there were an estimated 80,000 opioid overdoses in the U.S. last year, making it the leading cause of accidental death. The traditional model of OUD treatment often necessitates regular clinic visits for medication like buprenorphine, which is crucial in preventing overdoses and aiding recovery. 

However, the VA’s utilization of telehealth has become a game-changer, providing vital support for Veterans seeking OUD treatment but who may encounter barriers when attempting to receive in-person care. VA’s telehealth strategy offers a flexible, inclusive and life-saving approach for Veterans combating OUD.

The article also delves into a recent national study conducted by Dr. Allison Lin, an addiction psychiatrist at Ann Arbor VA in Michigan, who found that having the option for telehealth treatment helps Veterans start and stay in treatment.

Dr. Lin’s study, which was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic when the number of VA providers prescribing buprenorphine for OUD in a video or phone telehealth visit increased considerably, underscored the significance of telehealth. Her findings revealed the pivotal role it plays in supporting complex patient populations, including underserved Veterans facing housing instability or coping with various mental health and medical issues. Telehealth treatment options alleviate the stress of physically attending clinics while simultaneously breaking down geographical barriers, enabling Veterans, especially those in rural areas or lacking transportation, to access necessary care. 

These discoveries further showcase the need to safeguard permanent telehealth protections to ensure enhanced accessibility and effectiveness of nationwide OUD treatment, specifically for underserved populations, such as Veterans. 

Read the full VA News article HERE and learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect patients’ access to telehealth HERE.


Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.