Online drug treatment programs can be just as effective as traditional in-person group counseling in the short term, say Johns Hopkins University researchers quoted by the Baltimore Sun. The concept received high praise from former U.S. drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was at an announcement of the findings. “People need effective, science-based treatment that is appropriate for their community,” McCaffrey said. “This Internet delivery behind health care is going to be a big thing for us in the coming years.” Researchers divided 37 participants enrolled in a methadone program into two groups: a traditional counseling group and one that met via video conference online.After six weeks, the attendance of the online participants was 90 percent, while that of the traditional group was 76 percent. “That’s excellent in our treatment setting, and quite frankly in most treatment settings,” said Dr. Van King, the study’s lead author. Online participants said they liked the treatment more than the group that met in person, suggesting that they may be more likely to stay on the path to recovery. The privacy of online counseling can help remove the stigma of drug treatment for many people struggling with substance abuse problems, researchers said. And its convenience is attractive to people who lead busy lives. Investigators did not study whether the treatment was effective in keeping addicts clean in the long run, and online sessions are not practical for addicts who do not have Internet access.