Self Over Substance

A Member Story

In August 2019, when Ms. F was 49, she walked through AbsoluteCare’s doors, alone and isolated. A traumatic brain injury left her with memory issues and difficulty communicating. She found conversations frustrating and was often impatient with herself and others.

In addition to these concerns, she suffered from pulmonary embolism, chronic kidney disease, and deep vein thrombosis. She also suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and severe substance use disorder, which included IV drug use, opioids, cocaine, and alcohol.

To further complicate her life, Ms. F’s housing was neither safe nor stable. She had no subsidized rent and very little social or emotional support. And because her mental health and substance use issues were untreated, she had little desire to follow through with medical or self-care.

Karen Hillman, Behavioral Health Consultant, is Ms. F’s therapist. She describes some of the evidence-based treatment protocols we employed: “Consistency and the compassion of her care team were the greatest contributors to her desire to recover,” says Karen. “We focused on her strengths and let her know that we were there to help improve every aspect of her health. We employed motivational interviewing, active listening, and problem-solving techniques to help instill trust in us and patience with herself.” Ms. F bonded with the members of her care team. Her social worker helped resolve SDoH issues like transportation and phone service, in addition to helping her with applications for other services.

Her primary care doctor prescribed medications to treat Ms. F’s bipolar disorder, which allowed her to sleep better and think more clearly. Getting consistent cardiac care was now possible, and we made sure she could get to and from her appointments. We used the Member Fund to help find a carrier for her dog so that she would be able to bring him with her for emotional support.

Last year, Ms. F had the opportunity to get subsidized housing. The process was frustrating, and she came close to giving up. But with our encouragement and help from our resource specialist, she found the strength to hang in there and move into a new place—in a much safer, quieter environment—with her partner and her dog. Our Member Fund helped her furnish the new apartment. Since then, she has been able to adhere to her medication-assisted treatment with methadone and consistently maintain her sobriety.

Most important, Ms. F is now a full participant in her own care. She exhibits pride and sense of accomplishment at meeting her goals for her health and well-being. She continues to prioritize her health and keeps all center and outside appointments. Though we meet less frequently with her now than we did before, she knows we are always here for her.