Meet Emily, one of the many care coordinators at Ophelia. The care coordination team is responsible for supporting Ophelia patients in any way they can, be that rescheduling appointments, calling the pharmacy, finding referrals, and much more. Emily found Ophelia after losing a family member to overdose. Read to learn more about who Emily is and what motivates her to continue this life-changing work.
What is your role at Ophelia?
I’m a Care Coordinator. I’m actually one of the first people that patients talk to when they start treatment with us. Once they’re enrolled and meet with their clinician, I’m the first person that’s taking calls, answering questions, responding to texts, and solving any problems. Overall, I spend a lot of time advocating for our patients by calling pharmacies, and providing support for our patients that have not always been treated the best in the past.
What motivates you on your hardest day?
I’ve always had a strong desire to help people and a strong interest in human behavior and the way that people act. I have seen firsthand the impact that OUD and substance use can have on family and friends. Going from rock bottom to being happy and watching people transform their lives is really rewarding.
What is your personal connection to OUD?
Growing up, I had a lot of family members and friends that really struggled with substance use and other mental health conditions. It was really hard to watch them go through that and be afraid to reach out for help. I’ve seen the way that OUD impacts the family and everyone involved. It can happen to anyone.
What’s a common misconception about opioid use disorder (OUD)?
There’s a ton of misconceptions about OUD and MAT in general. Stigma is actually one of the main reasons why people are so hesitant to start treatment in the first place. There’s a huge fear of being judged. There’s also a fear of being treated poorly by others in healthcare due to past experiences.
Substance use disorders are more stigmatized than any other health condition, and that alone can really make people afraid to open up and reach out for help when they need it.
How do we break the stigma surrounding OUD?
I think it starts with education and conversation. A lot of people don’t even know what MAT is or the science behind how it works. There’s a misconception that by using Suboxone, you’re just replacing one drug with another, and it’s not real recovery. That alone can be really harmful for people.
We want to make sure to educate families on harm reduction and overdose prevention. As long as we continue the conversation, help will start to become more of the norm.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about OUD?
It doesn’t matter your race, your income, your socioeconomic status—it can happen to anyone. It’s important that people are aware of that. A lot of people tend to think that anyone who does opioids is a “junkie” or isn’t good for society.
When someone passes away due to an overdose, they are oftentimes viewed as a bad person. People don’t see them for all of the good that they did, all that’s remembered is that they passed away due to a drug-related overdose. Just because somebody struggled, that doesn’t define who they are as a person.
Everybody deserves to be treated as a human and with respect.