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Month: March 2017

“Self-Fulfillment” Trip or Service Trip?

“Self-Fulfillment” Trip or Service Trip?

Carrie’s lecture on global health reminded me of an article I just read that criticized service trips that were really “self-fulfillment” trips. It was an interesting read on how the “white saviour” complex is so prevalent in service projects. But through Carrie’s personal narratives, it was surprising to learn ways in which even someone with the best intentions may not be doing what is best for the local community. Her recount of the research she did in Durban, South Africa was what really made me realize how there is “always something more to learn from a culture,” as Carrie said. Nothing came of all that research she did about the correlation between school connection and violence because the interventions she proposed were not applicable solutions in regards to the local community.

The times in which the first question she was asked was “Do you have a gun?” was also an interesting point, in my opinion. It just really shows how easy generalizations are made based off first impressions, media, and stereotypes surrounding a culture or population. This is also a crucial reason to remember that how you present yourself in a different community or area is so important because you are representing so much more than just yourself, but also all the identities you are a part of.

Cultural sensitivity and the ethics of global health work is incredibly important to maintain. In order to do so, research about the culture and community that the work is taking place is undoubtedly a key component. And no matter how much you try and learn about a specific community, never assume you know everything. It’s usually hard to swallow your pride and admit your naivety, but the respect that should be held for another culture should be more important than your ego.

And with that, I challenge you with the questions: What do you think is a plausible way to ensure that instead of “self-fulfillment” trips, actual service trips are taken? Would there be institutional regulation and screening for individuals going on the trip? Or, is there no way of preventing “self-fulfillment” trips?

Collegiate Recovery Program

Collegiate Recovery Program

Sometimes when I am walking down the street and I see people, I like to make up stories about their life; what they’re doing, where they’re going, and why. I make up a lot of random things but I do not think I have ever created a story where someone had an addiction or was in recovery. After this week’s lecture, I realized that that narrative would be true for a lot more people than I would expect. The main thing I think of when I hear addiction is images of people being violent, living in dirty places, and having an extreme lack of self control; the things you see on the news and dramatized on TV. But now I realize that this is not always the case. There are people who could be sitting next to me in my classes and are struggling with an addiction.

When dealing with the topic of addiction, I think  it is important that everyone remembers that people who are struggling with it are still people. Whatever choices they have or whatever circumstances they are currently in does not negate their humanity. We all have to be able to respect people regardless of what we might perceive to be “bad” or “socially unacceptable.” Everyone has a story and just because someone’s story may be different than our own, does not justify their deprivation of love, community, and understanding. Because at the end of the day, we all have our issues, downfalls and struggles, but that is what makes us who we are.

 

If You Really Knew Me…

If You Really Knew Me…

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I first want to start out to say that the opioid and recovery topics bring me back to House MD, which has to be my favorite TV drama that has to do with medicine. However, in regards to class this week it was interesting to hear from people who deal with this issue and are still in college pursuing on. Though I agree with most issues or develop a personal opinion after class each week, with this one I am still indecisive (but that’s something I could rant about in more than one blog post). In regards to personal action I think the first effective step is to not avoid the issue and to acknowledge that it exists. People do forget that their opinion and support can affect the way someone feels about themselves and their situations and what we say can just make emotions worse. I think in future if more knowledge or sessions come offered about patients in recovery I could take advantage, but I do not plan to go any further voluntarily or proactively into the issue. Again that is my personal opinion — I would take actions to an extent and hopefully you would too.

Also, David in class did tell us that in his day he will see his fellow recovery friends within almost every 5 minutes here in Ann Arbor. I think we forget that we encounter these people daily and that we do not know anyone’s story just by looking at them necessarily. This also brings me back to MTV show “If You Really Knew Me,” for if you didn’t know it is about when students and figures express the sad but true realities of their lives. My high school did this event every year and it really makes you stop and reflect and realize how selfish our problems are. Someone always has it worse. Yes Bio 172 is thrashing me like Hulk did to Loki, but at least I don’t have to be labeled as a student in recovery. Though if I did have that label, which isn’t impossible, I would embrace it because it would be apart of me. I do think that you and all people should remember that when things don’t seem okay, or it is the worst day ever (I’m having those more than often now). These are the steps I take daily, I hope maybe you do too even if it is a mindset you carry temporarily. Do you agree that it takes personal reflection? Is it more complicated than that to you is so, why?

Mahalo.

Criminals or Patients?

Criminals or Patients?

The presentation by the College Recovery Program shined a light on an important aspect of the drug epidemic in American society, namely in the approach to fighting it. Although certain drugs ought to remain illegal, and distributors of such drugs should be punished, it is important to consider whether is an efficient use of taxpayer resources to jail and prosecute people addicted to such drugs, rather than help them fight the addiction as well.

Often times, jail does not provide a supportive environment for fighting an addiction, as being surrounded by convicts and treated like a pariah may only further feed into it, especially given certain drug cultures among inmates. A large part of the drug epidemic stems from socioeconomic disparities, specifically in that those with connections and resources to get off on an easier sentence can get the treatment they need, while those without may see themselves in prison.

As far as a potential career in health goes, it is especially crucial to understand the symptoms and biological causes of addiction and withdrawal, so that we can develop appropriate therapies to slowly wean these people off the influence of drugs. Personally, some steps I could take would be to study more on the impact that drug distribution has on lower SES communities, as well as how some of these drugs reach more affluent areas as well. I have some personal experience with this, as a student at my high school was arrested this January for selling Xanax out of a bathroom stall.

As far as interacting with people on campus who might be recovering, college is a difficult place, since the drug/drinking culture might seem dominant. It could help to be aware of people who abstain for reasons such as fighting addiction, and not bring up drinking and drugs too often in conversation, lessening some of the peer pressure.

What are your thoughts on how to go about this issue?

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Addiction is a major public health problem worldwide. As future healthcare professionals I believe that it is very important to destigmatize addiction and recovery. Addiction is a disease and should not be treated as if it is anything else. As such, when encountering a patient that is suffering from addiction, they should be given the same quality of care and level of compassion that one would give to any other patient suffering from a chronic brain disease.

Outside the realm of medicine, I am certain that most of us have been affected by addiction in one way or another through people we know and care about. In my opinion, the best way that we can help those who suffer from addiction is through loving and encouraging them; but not to enable them. It is very difficult to overcome addiction and even harder to do so without anyone else on your side so having a solid support system is key. When interacting with people on campus or in our communities who suffer from addiction it is important to understand that we likely cannot relate to what they are going through.

Furthermore, we live in a culture that glorifies the use of alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol is consumed in many business interactions and can cause difficult and uncomfortable situations for people that struggle with addiction and substance abuse. This system should change and accommodate in some way for those who choose not to partake in the consumption of alcohol.

My question to you all is: What are the best ways to be supportive of those who are suffering from addiction?

Collegiate Recovery Program

Collegiate Recovery Program

This lecture was particularly dear to my heart because I have a personal connection to addiction. I have an older brother who is suffering from addiction to opiates, so hearing the stories of three recovering addicts brought a lot of bad memories to mind during lecture. Everything the panelists mentioned like enabling, the stigma, prison, etc., I could in some way relate to. Before lecture, I understood a lot about the stigma and addiction in itself, but recovery was something I wasn’t very familiar with since my brother isn’t in recovery. The collegiate recovery program seems like a perfect environment to escape the drug/alcohol college culture. Also, it gives recovering addicts a place where the stigmas are absent and support is present, so they are able to succeed in recovery.

As a future health care professional, there are many ways to become aware of the needs of people with addiction or in recovery. One way I would like to become more aware is to volunteer helping people in recovery. That could includes organizing alternative events instead of parties, helping in a rehab center, doing volunteer work with recovering addicts, etc. This could help future health professionals get more experience working with people with addiction/recovering from addiction. Future health care professionals also need to get educated and destroy any stigmas/stereotypes that have about people with addiction. Addiction is not the patient’s personal choice, so don’t treat them like criminals. Lastly, future doctors need to be more aware when writing prescriptions, because that is a major factor feeding into the opioid epidemic right now, and I saw this from a first person perspective.

When interacting with people around campus, I need to keep in mind that I do not know every students background and there are likely many people at UMich suffering from addiction right now. Like the panelists, said it is statistics that about 10 of the 120 HSSPers will develop a substance use disorder. We, as other students, need to support and love the people around us if they are going through addiction/recovery. Although I have experience with people with addiction and I have prior knowledge of addiction, they panelists who visited taught me a lot about recovery ad the resources available for people wanting to recover.

 

Collegiate Recovery Program

Collegiate Recovery Program

In this week’s lecture, we heard from panelists who are in recovery from addiction; this opportunity had allowed me to better understand the struggles and journeys of individuals in recovery. I also realized just how much stigma and harmful stereotypes were created about people with substance use disorder, and how such stigma and stereotypes have prevented many from getting the support and help that they need. As future healthcare professional, I should keep this idea in mind and be compassionate to patients with addiction or are in recovery. I should not blame all of the substance use issues on a patient’s personal choice; rather, it is important to recognize that substance use disorder is a condition that can cause harms to one’s mental and physical health. I can also volunteer in related programs and help advocate for more accessible, effective treatments for people with addiction.

Right now, I think the most important thing for us to do is to get educated on the topic of substance use disorder, so that we are not ignorant and don’t uphold the stigma/stereotype about people with addiction. As stated in the lecture, addiction is not uncommon among us. So when interacting with people on campus, I should be more caring and recognize that I don’t know everyone’s story. If someone I know is struggling with addiction, I should be a good listener, offer my support, and help them find the resources that they may need.

 

My question for you guys is: what is your major takeaway from the panel, and how will you incorporate it into your life?

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Collegiate Recovery Panel

During lecture, being able to hear the testimonials of two individuals who have gone through difficult obstacles and events in their lives, it made me reflect that as an aspiring doctor I will need to be alert of the patients who are battling with addiction. It is imperative not to neglect these patients because that is how one will learn how to be aware of the people in recovery and people with addiction. Conducting research on the issue will help expose how to better interact with patients and help them end their horrid cycle. It all takes time and patience, but with a mindset of trying to understand where people come from and learning from their experiences will allow better communication in order to help people in recovery or with addiction.

I think many people are not aware about some individuals being in recovery, and therefore we sometimes forget that some people are fighting to have a better lifestyle.  What I would do and what I hope the community would do too, is provide support to individuals who may need a support system. For those individuals suffering from addiction or are in recovery, they should know that they have people to fall back on and that they aren’t alone. From this, one should be caring because one never knows what luggage the other person might be carrying, so it is always good to just be kind and to treat others as one would want to be treated.

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Before we left lecture on Thursday, through the combined noise of everyone, Matt suggested to everyone in the room that everyone try to get experience or training in dealing with people recovering or dealing with a substance addiction because graduate level programs don’t do the best job of training students in that area. As an aspiring dentist, it never came to my mind that I could one day be providing care to someone with an addiction problem. Even though the career of dentistry has a focus with the oral health of an individual, I believe that volunteering for a non-profit with a focus on helping people with such addiction problems would be great exposure for myself. Such an experience would teach me where to direct patients if they ever come to me for advice on local recourses to help with their problem. Also, such an experience would help me further understand the problem of substance addiction, which could help me cement my future mission as a health provider; to do everything in my power to help people improve their health.

When interacting with someone who is in the process of recovery from addiction, I would make sure to give them their space and not ask any questions about their struggles that might come off as disrespectful. Also, if the person in question is a close friend then, I’d let them know that I’d be there to talk to them about any struggles they may be facing. Addiction is a very personal issue, so what are some way that you as a student can foster an inclusive environment for people dealing with an addiction or in the process of recovery? Also, what could you do in the future to gain more experience with dealing or helping those dealing with addiction and how could this be beneficial in a future career?

Collegiate Recovery Panel

Collegiate Recovery Panel

As a future doctor, it is extremely important for me to be aware of the opiate epidemic and its causes. It is very likely that someday I will prescribe a patient pain killers, and if I am uninformed of the risks of these drugs, so will my patient. I think the best way for me to become informed on the topic, is to gain exposure to the problem and interact with people who have gone through it. Interning or working with just about any sort of doctor or participating in research on opiate addiction would likely expose me to recovering addicts and their needs.

Before Thursday’s talk, I had no idea how prevalent addiction is. Now that I am more informed on this issue, however, I plan on being more conscientious of the fact that anyone I come into contact with may be in recovery or struggling with some sort of addiction. Because of this, I will be much more careful with the language I use when discussing the topic, so as to not offend or embarrass anyone.

So my fellow bloggers, I ask you what your plans are to integrate the lessons we learned in lecture into your lives?