Working in a local intensive care unit has given Hanna an interesting perspective on addiction. From the start, Hanna makes it known that she has always had an interest in substance abuse.
I know when I actually went to school and my counselor at college asked me what do I wanna do as a dietician? I said I wanted to be a dietician in a drug rehab facility… Obviously growing up in Saginaw I’ve been around alot of people who had issues with drugs and things like that. It’s been interesting to hear people’s stories, especially people that I know, and people that I haven’t heard from in ten years and didn’t know what was going on.
Hanna isn’t sure what drew her to this segment of the population. Although she acknowledges her grandfather suffered from alcoholism, it was hidden from her for years. She brings up an important, yet underappreciated, viewpoint and that is the nutritional deprivation often present in addiction.
I don’t have any close close ties where I can say this story, brought on my interest. My family… we have a healthy relationship with drinking not having issues. Aside (from) My grandpa dying of alcoholism. That was something that was hidden from me until I was an adult. It’s an area that’s underserved for person that’s interested in nutrition and getting well and things like that.
We talk about the substance abuse education we received growing up, the DARE Program, and Hanna shares one of her greatest fears as a child was being put in a situation where Oxycontin was prescribed:
Back when we did DARE what were they telling us? Don’t smoke pot. Okay, that’s fine, check. I won’t do that, but they’re not talking about when someone offers you one of grandma’s special pills. I don’t take that it just needs to be updated. It needs to stay relevant, or nobody’s gonna listen to it… Maybe that requires, like a younger generation going in and maybe this is what your calling is. It needs a fresh perspective.
I always said, one of my biggest fears was having something that injured your back, as kids were always romping around doing whatever. You hurt your back one time, you get some Oxy and then you just never know what’s gonna happen next. So many people that never would have touched anything until a doctor gave them an opiate It’s very… it’s a slippery slope.
Given that Hanna’s a Saginaw native and Heritage High School graduate like myself. Her perspective comes from a place of growing up in a drug saturated environment. She also tells us how her preconception of a drug addict has changed from her experiences:
I would picture somebody much older, homeless on the street type of people, I I guess before that age, but I feel like people may have been addicts in high school and we knew that they were abusing drugs, but maybe I wouldn’t have been there a drug addict. That term doesn’t come on because they’re still just kids.
In high school, I feel like it’s kind of when it separated, there were people that were recreationally fine and then there were people that were not and it was just kind of… it separates you. And it did seem to kind of separate.
Hanna goes into detail about why she reached out to OD to share her experience:
I feel like what’s most pertinent to this talk specifically and kind of why I even took interest in mentioning my role. I was thinking about as we were rounding on patients. They all tend to be the same age as us, they’re between their 20s and 30s. Yeah, and this one specifically, there was a heroin overdose, and I just thought, well There’s two people and they’ve lived the same number of years in life, and how have they done such a different thing. And I was just astonished thinking about. Wow, all of the people that I see here for the same issue tend to be in the same age group, and I don’t know the statistics but I assume it’s because you don’t make it that much longer.
The role our healthcare system played in the growing problem is also discussed. Hanna gives her explanation on how the system played a role in the increasing number of addicts:
If you look back as far the history goes medically there is measures of hospitals. It all started when a grade was failing if hospitals weren’t controlling their patient’s pain. The joint commission, they come around and they’re the ones that grade you on this. When you’re not controlling a patient’s pain, obviously you get bad grades, they try to change that. And it went too far in the other direction. Just recently, it’s been in the last couple of months, they’ve started new opiate laws in the hospitals, and they are tight, so they’re making strides, it’s still an issue, but at least someone’s looking at it at least.
We discuss addiction from our perspective growing up in Saginaw, as a whole in society, and Hanna shares her thoughts on OD. We close with Hanna sharing her advice to anyone who might be dealing with substance abuse.
I think it’s great, like I said, the dialogue needs to be there. I mean, specifically for people in Saginaw, everybody from Saginaw knows that it’s an issue, we’ve all known somebody that’s had a problem and nobody talks about it, maybe they do, but there’s not a good platform for it. So this is necessary and great.
I would say, to reach out to somebody that you trust and you pick somebody that you think is gonna help you do something about it, don’t just sit on it and keep it to yourself. Reach out to somebody that you trust, reach out to a professional, anybody that you think is gonna help motivate you to do something else about it. You don’t need an accomplice to sweep it under the rug, you need somebody that’s gonna help you go out there and fix the problem.