The opioid epidemic has caused destruction as far as the eye can see and beyond. It’s not just the tens of thousands of deaths each year by overdose, but also the destruction of families, tying up the courts with endless litigation, and so much more. As a society, we’ve been scrambling to stem the root causes of the crisis and stitch together a way to help those who are suffering most.
For those who find themselves dependent on opioids, luckily there are effective medications to assist with getting past withdrawals to ditch your habit. These drugs are essentially just pain-relievers used to manage any symptoms of withdrawal that make it difficult to stop their use.
While the only treatment options for anyone who’s developed an opioid dependency used to require in person visits, you can now find telehealth options that bring healthcare to the convenience of your home. Bicycle Health is a leader in virtual care for addiction, making it easy to access FDA-approved medications 100% online. Let’s take a closer look at this startup and see if its treatments are legit for folks looking to kick their habit to the curb once and for all.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Bicycle Health uses a form of addiction treatment known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This is an established and effective opioid addiction treatment. Generally, MAT uses a combination of medication and behavioral therapies to treat certain addictions. The FDA-approved medications used in these programs may include:
While many people wonder whether it’s a good idea to treat an addiction to a drug with another type of drug, there is sound reasoning behind it. The medications used provide specific functions that can help people more safely and easily overcome addiction. They can help you:
- Manage difficult symptoms of withdrawal that you could experience from suddenly quitting or cutting back on opioids (Sweating, achy muscles, agitation, insomnia, anxiety and other symptoms)
- Reduce cravings for opioids
- Block the effects of opioids
- Reduce the risk of overdose
It can be very difficult to stop using opioids when your body is dependent on them and you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using them. The drugs used within MAT help manage these problems to support the quitting and recovery process.
What treatments does Bicycle Health offer for opioid addiction?
Back to Bicycle Health. This telehealth startup prescribes one of the most common medications used in MAT, which is Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). The brand notes that this is a safe and effective form of treatment, and that it is more easily available than another MAT option, methadone, which you can only get through specific government-licensed programs.
Bicycle Health aims to make the process of getting Suboxone online as easy as possible. It uses a convenient telehealth model that allows you to skip visits to a doctor’s office or treatment center. This gives you a more private treatment option from the comfort of your home, and it makes it easier to fit treatment in with other responsibilities like school or work. Everything is done from home directly through online contact with this company. Nonetheless, while visits are virtual, you do need to go to an in-person pharmacy to pick up your prescription.
Bicycle Health medical providers are able to prescribe various medications to help with your full medical status and your symptoms. The main treatment is Suboxone to target opioid withdrawal. Depending on each situation, the providers may also prescribe medications for symptoms directly related to your opioid dependence and treatment, such as:
- muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- diarrhea and abdominal cramps
How does Bicycle Health work?
Source: Bicycle Health
1. To get started with Bicycle Health, you make an appointment through the website.
2. Then, you meet virtually with your enrollment coordinator. This is the part where you give your medical history and information on your opioid use. The coordinator finds out about your goals and whether you’re a good fit for the program, and gives you information so you can see if it’s a good fit for you.
3. You make an appointment with a Bicycle Health medical provider and have a virtual visit with them via video and phone. You work with your provider to develop a treatment plan together, many of which include prescriptions for Suboxone, often during this first visit.
5. The Suboxone prescription is sent to your local pharmacy for you to pick up.
6. You have regular telehealth visits (weekly, biweekly or monthly) with your Bicycle Health medical provider, and the provider refills the prescription as applicable during these visits.
7. You have access to Bicycle Health mental health support, including online support groups, medical providers who can prescribe treatment for mental health disorders if needed and health coaches who support behavioral health.
Review of Bicycle Health: Is it a legit suboxone provider?
Is Bicycle Health a trustworthy option for popular opioid addiction drugs? To help you decide, we created the following chart that summarizes how their platform works and answered other FAQs.
Bicycle Health FAQ
What kind of treatment does Bicycle offer?
|Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction (opioid use disorder)|
What medications does Bicycle health prescribe for opioid dependency?
|Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and other medications for symptoms as needed|
What other services do they provide?
|Telehealth medical visits, prescription medication, online support groups, health coaching|
Does Bicycle Health offer free shipping?
|No, providers prescribe medications through telehealth visits but you go to your local pharmacy to pick up prescription in person instead of it being shipped to your door|
How much does Bicycle Health cost?
|Appointments, online support, health coaching services: $199/month self-pay, or accepts Medicare (and some health insurance plans) Prescriptions and lab tests: Separate payment dependent on cost at provider; self-pay for prescriptions is often approx. $100-$150 per month depending on pharmacy and dose, self-pay for lab tests up to $78; Can use health insurance if accepted for lab and prescriptions|
Where is Bicycle Health’s service available?
|Must live in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming|
Overall, Bicycle Health could be a good option for helping you conveniently get opioid addiction treatment. It removes the need for in-person visits to a doctor or treatment clinic, making treatment faster and easier. It provides medication-assisted treatment from home, with both the prescription medication and some behavioral health services.
A major pro is that it could help you have discreet care from home for an opioid addiction, if having privacy is important to you. It could also make it easier to fit in your treatment around work, school or other things going on in your life because you wouldn’t have to go to a clinic or facility in person. The program could work around your schedule. This telehealth model may get rid of some barriers of the conventional healthcare system that are keeping some people out of treatment.
Where can Bicycle Health improve?
That said, it’s important to cover some downsides of this service so you have the full picture:
1. It’s not a direct-to-consumer service that sends prescriptions to your doorstep, just so you’re aware. You have to go to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription (but you likely have to do that anyway).
2. There are limitations to this program within the category of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). True medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is designed to incorporate both medications and counseling/behavioral therapies, and accredited, certified opioid treatment programs (OTPs) need to give patients “counseling, which may include different forms of behavioral therapy,” according to federal law. Bicycle Health does provide some behavioral health in the form of online support groups and health coaching, but it does not provide true counseling or therapy by a trained, credentialed mental health professional. So that is something to be aware of.
Also, the FDA recommends that all people receiving opioid use disorder treatment should have the option of all three FDA-approved medications for this purpose (buprenorphine, naltrexone and methadone) so that each person can get the best treatment for their specific case. Of these three medications, Bicycle Health only offers access to buprenorphine and only to one of the brands of that medication.
3. It’s smart to consider costs in relation to the services you get in exchange. Is the cost worth it for you? If you have a health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid plan, would in-person MAT services in your area cost less than this program? Would you get more? These are questions that are worth considering. To their credit, Bicycle now accepts United Healthcare plans nationwide.
Comparing Bicycle Health to other online platforms for addiction treatments
Curious how Bicycle Health compares to other competitors treating opioid addiction online? Here’s a chart to help you see how Bicycle Health compares to Ophelia and Workit Health:
|Online Opioid Addiction Treatments: Bicycle Health vs Ophelia vs Workit|
|Services offered||Telehealth medical visits, online support groups, health coaching, prescriptions for Suboxone and other medications for symptoms as needed||Telehealth medical visits, prescriptions usually for Suboxone, unlimited support from care team||Telehealth medical visits, group therapy with a licensed counselor, a personalized online program, prescriptions for Suboxone|
|Cost||$199/month plus cost of prescriptions||$195/month plus cost of prescriptions||Unspecified weekly fee plus cost of prescriptions|
|Accepts insurance?||Medicare and some California health plans (like United Healthcare) accepted for visits; prescriptions are generally covered by insurance||Not for visits; prescriptions are generally covered by insurance||Yes for visits; prescriptions are generally covered by insurance|
|Locations available||23 States (listed in chart above)||2 States: New York & Pennsylvania|
6 States: Alaska, California, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio & Washington (plans to expand)
Nationwide for online therapy with no medication
|How to access|
Bicycle Health Reviews: What do real customers think?
Here are some opinions by real people who have used the Bicycle Health service:
The Verdict: Is Bicycle health legit for opioid addiction treatment?
Hopefully this overview gives you a better idea of what Bicycle Health is and what it isn’t. Its best feature is that it makes medication-assisted treatment more convenient and private through telehealth visits rather than going to an in-person facility. It could be a valuable service if convenience is important to you or if the cost is less than similar treatment in your area. It may also be a great option for people who are already on a buprenorphine treatment plan and switching to this one would save money and time, or if going to an in-person treatment center is a barrier to getting the help you need.
However you or your loved ones are working to treat addiction, we hope it’s going well and wish you the best. Let us know your thoughts about Bicycle Health’s offering in the comments below.