Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, most of the time fueled by addiction. Opioids are among the most prevalent drugs that can lead to addiction because of the active powerful reward systems that they create in your brain. Opioids, when used as directed, trigger the release of endorphins and muffle your perception of pain, effectively alleviating chronic pain. Many people who later become addicted were initially introduced to opioids to relieve pain, often not realizing the addictive effects.
In 2019, around 10 million people aged 12 and over misused opioids. If you or someone you know are one of those 10 million, you may have come across a variety of treatment plans aimed at aiding recovery.
Along with traditional substance abuse recovery programs, some programs have gone through a paradigm shift by embracing technology, like online smoking cessation services. Many people do not always see someone with substance use disorder (SUD) sympathetically, contributing to the stigma surrounding traditional in-person recovery programs.
Ophelia falls on the nontraditional spectrum. An at-home treatment program that offers medication and support for opioid withdrawal, Ophelia brings a relatively new approach to opioid addiction treatment, without the baggage and added steps of rehab.
In this review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Ophelia, including their services, the medications they prescribe, and what customers think of them.
Does online treatment for opioid addiction work?
A recent study published in Psychiatric Services found that telehealth services in addiction treatment may increase patient engagement. Using existing research and data, they concluded that telehealth may help patients more easily begin and stay in addiction treatment, which can be a significant challenge for many addicts.
They also found that telehealth treatment was just as effective as in-person treatment for substance abuse, including opioid use disorder medication management. Patients in these studies received a combination of services including medication management, regular in-person treatment for counseling, and drug testing, all of which are consistent with virtual rehab platforms.
Another study conducted in Ontario, Canada compared patients who received opioid treatment completely in person and completely online. The aim was to see how well patients responded to the different formats of treatment (i.e. telehealth, in-person, or hybrid) and compare the effectiveness of each in preventing relapse. Researchers again found that telemedicine for opioid treatment is effectively equal to in-person care when evaluating opioid-related emergency visits and/or mortality.
Another perk of telehealth treatment is the convenience factor. A study revealed that the majority of people coping with opioid addiction don’t have easy access to treatment, which was only exacerbated by COVID-19. Telehealth services for patients facing these difficulties or many others (transportation issues, scheduling conflicts, social anxiety) offer easier access to treatment, and therefore a higher retention rate for appointments.
While these findings are promising, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of telehealth in treating opioid addiction depends on the individual patient. In-person treatment may not be suited for patients with attention challenges, for example, and there are instances or cases of severe addiction when physicians would be more comfortable seeing their patients for in-purpose treatments. Hybrid treatment is another great option, should that be the case.
But overall, telehealth is an effective alternative to in-person opioid treatment for many patients and can be combined with other services to create a hybrid approach, as well.
Review of Ophelia for opioid addiction
What is Ophelia?
Ophelia is a digital healthcare startup that provides high-quality opioid recovery services in the comfort of patients’ homes. The service offers online doctor visits, prescriptions for withdrawal, and ongoing support for long-term recovery.
Ophelia models the Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) program, which combines medicine with counseling and behavioral therapy (OUD). Ophelia wants to replace rehab, as well as the stigma and inconvenience associated with it, with telemedicine and a customer-first approach through MAT and other services.
Under this MAT program, Ophelia exclusively prescribes FDA-approved drugs. Years of study have shown that these medications help to avoid the worst symptoms of withdrawal, reduce cravings, and lessen the probability of relapse. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal organizations have supported MAT as the first-line treatment, so you can be confident that the services you will receive from Ophelia will be of the highest quality.
Ophelia takes pride in providing discreet, low-cost, and convenient MAT services to individuals who would not otherwise have access to such care.
If you or a loved one are struggling with any other forms of addiction and are seeking treatment, we dissect and compare Zero vs Lucy vs Nicorette for smoking cessation, and offer an in-depth review of Zero to help you quit smoking.
How to get an online prescription from Ophelia
You’ll have to go through a few simple steps to get an online prescription from Ophelia:
- Complete their eligibility quiz to see if you are a good fit for their program and to assist them in better understanding your position or any personalizations that you might benefit from. The quiz is about your opioid use relationship, any previous addiction treatment, and your primary aim for going into this program.
- If approved, you’ll then have a free, 40-minute video consultation with a clinician for them to better understand your circumstances, provide you with more information about the program, and address any remaining questions you may have.
- Your prescribing clinician will create a treatment plan based on your medical history and information provided up to this point. During the initial stages of your treatment, you will meet with your clinician weekly, and as you progress through the treatment, you may eventually meet less frequently.
- Next, you’ll meet with your care team, made up of a prescribing clinician, a nurse, and a care coordinator during the initial video meeting. They will be available to support your treatment by text, email, or phone seven days a week and can assist with clinical questions, pharmacy procedures, and appointment scheduling.
- Finally, you’ll be able to pick up your first Suboxone prescription. Suboxone medication is subject to governmental and pharmaceutical regulations to ensure that it is prescribed and administered correctly. Ophelia will not ship drugs directly to you unless you go through a pharmacy. However, Ophelia is extremely fast in their service, you can pick up your prescription the same day as your initial video visit from your nearby local pharmacy.
Where is Ophelia available?
Ophelia is currently available in 12 states with plans to launch in additional states in the near future:
- New York
What meds does Ophelia offer for opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms?
Ophelia clinicians currently primarily prescribe Suboxone (generic: buprenorphine/naloxone) as part of their MAT program to assist patients in managing opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms. However, they also prescribe drugs to deal with those withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and difficulty sleeping.
Another company that treats opioid addiction with Suboxone is Workit Health, among treatment for many other addictions. If you’re looking for treatment beyond opioid addiction, read more in our review of Workit Health.
Suboxone review: Does it work for opioid addiction?
Suboxone (FDA-approved) is a common medication in MAT programs, containing buprenorphine and naloxone. It helps reduce opioid cravings & withdrawal symptoms and protect against any relapse or overdose effects, results of which can be observed within an hour and can last up to 24 hours after each dose.
Studies show that using medications for opioid disorder (MOUD) can lower the risk of fatal overdoses by about 50%, as well as non-fatal overdoses.
An opioid agonist, such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone activates the pain-blocking receptor in the brain, producing a feeling of pleasure. Suboxone is an antagonist, binding to the same receptors in the brain as opiates do to block the “opioid effect”. This effectively negates any feelings of pleasure by preventing them from activating pain receptors, helping you to manage your cravings and withdrawal symptoms by blocking the “opioid effect”.
Ideally, addiction treatment should include MOUD, therapy, recovery coaching, support groups, and other services to produce the best possible outcomes. However, evidence has shown that treatment with Suboxone alone can still be highly effective in opioid addiction treatment, making patients more likely to stay in treatment and test negative for opioids in the urine. Fortunately, with Ophelia’s ongoing assistance, you will receive full, effective treatment.
One study showed that approximately 49% of participants reduced their prescription painkiller abuse while taking Suboxone for a sustained period (at least 12 weeks), but when Suboxone was stopped, the success rate declined to 8.6%. Reductions in prescription painkiller misuse were observed regardless of whether the patient reported suffering from chronic pain, and individuals who received intensive addiction counseling did not fare any better than those who did not receive this additional counseling.
What are the side effects of suboxone?
Suboxone’s side effects are induced by its status as a partial opioid agonist and can include headaches, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. The onset is gradual, and the medicine has a long duration, making them mild.
Can you become addicted to suboxone?
Because of the gradual onset and long duration of treatment, it is much less addictive than heroin, morphine, and other opioids. Despite the drug’s usage in maintaining opioid dependence, the National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment claims that any dependency can be resolved by progressively reducing the dose as the patient continues through treatment, which is exactly what Ophelia emphasizes during their biweekly/monthly doctor consultations.
How much does Ophelia cost?
Ophelia‘s pricing is reasonable, even if you don’t have insurance. Their monthly charge of $195 covers all of your weekly/monthly clinician visits, your Suboxone prescription, and ongoing support. With the high quality of the services and assistance available every day of the week (a necessary piece, as the addiction treatment journey is not an easy one and requires relentless support), the price as a bundle is rational to us.
If you cannot afford this out-of-pocket pricing plan, Ophelia also provides financial assistance to qualifying patients.
Does Ophelia accept insurance?
Ophelia works with a growing set of insurance plans, including Empire BCBS, Highmark BCBS, Humana, and Geisinger. However, even if you have insurance, you may still be responsible for a copay, coinsurance, and any deductibles that are not covered. The Ophelia care team is very transparent and will communicate this to you during your initial visit.
Ophelia alternatives: How does Ophelia compare to other virtual rehabs? Ophelia vs Workit Health vs Bicycle Health
Online Addiction Treatment Comparison: Ophelia vs Monument vs Bicycle Health vs Cerebral
|Addiction treatments offered||Opioids only||All types, including:|
Nicotine and tobacco
Sex and porn
Alcohol Use Disorder
|Medications prescribed for opioids||Suboxone (buprenorphine /nalox)||Suboxone & Naltrexone||Suboxone (buprenorphine /nalox)||Suboxone|
|Prices||$195 per month plan which includes:|
Weekly/monthly clinician visits Suboxone prescription Ongoing support
|Unspecified weekly fee plus the cost of prescriptions||$199 monthly program fee, which includes:|
Telehealth doctor’s visits Unlimited instant messaging Counseling Care navigation Online support groups
Medications billed separately but are eligible for insurance coverage
Offers remote follow-up video visits on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis
Offers access to medical team chat, coach team chat, and admin team chat
Offers ongoing care and support, which includes prescription refills, health coaching, and support groups
Dedicated support team available for 24/7 messaging to help you with any questions or concerns
|Locations available?||Telehealth and MAT in 12 states:|
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
|Online therapy is available nationwide|
Medication-assisted treatment is only available in the following states:
Alaska, California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Virginia, Georgia
|Available in 24 states: |
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
|California, Florida, Washington (more coming soon)|
|Access to licensed doctors?||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|A personalized care team?||✅||❌||❌||✅|
|Includes lab tests?||❌||✅||✅||✅|
Cerebral, known for their anxiety and depression treatment, also began treatment online for OUD. Check out our full review of the platform’s benefits.
Ophelia vs Workit Health for opioid addiction treatment
Ophelia is a cost-effective program for opioid addiction treatment compared to the rehabilitation centers, the fees of which could amount to $15000+ for a month’s stay. There are certainly different ways to approach and treat patients, so if you are looking for a more holistic experience from a digital rehab platform, we recommend Workit Health.
Workit Health offers a growing number of online courses that combine the latest research, including therapy techniques. They also provide group and one-on-one therapy sessions and lab test delivery straight to your house. Medication-assisted treatment, as we know, is most effective when paired with behavioral health care like this.
Workit Health‘s only drawback is a lack of transparency regarding the costs of the