State exploring telehealth options for drug abuse

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The state Department of Social Services is exploring using telemedicine services to help drug and alcohol abusers in remote parts of the state stay sober and out of prison.

State officials say the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded a $100,000 to the department to figure out how to implement so-called telehealth services with two treatment providers.

It would likely be similar to telemedicine in which the individual uses a computer to receive outpatient service they'd normally get in person.

State general counsel Jim Seward says treatment centers are too far from some rural parts of the state, leaving drug and alcohol abusers without help.

Judges say they're often forced to send offenders to prison instead of keeping on them on probation if treatment isn't an option.

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