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HELPING TO SAVE YOUNG LIVES
HANNAH DAKOTA FUND
HANNAH DAKOTA FUND is partnered with
Given Hannah was not the "stereotype" we imagined of a heroin addict, as she continued on in college we thought everything was essentially under control. Even after the extensive course of treatment, none of us understood the insidiousness of this drug, the relentless grip of its addiction, nor the absurd statistical odds against her survival.
As so often happens with this disease, Hannah relapsed with a young man that she had met at the ineffective treatment center. However, she pulled out of that and when her Senior Fall term at school began, Hannah, with her strong personality, thought she had been equipped to manage the addiction. She thought she had the whole thing figured out.
Then she died.
Like many of our young students, during her Winter finals Hannah stayed up many nights in a row, with the aid of prescription stimulants; (which we discovered going through her final phone texts). She did not die from a heroin overdose; smart, witty, Hannah made a calculation error: she did not factor "exhaustion" into her equation of taking "just a little" heroin to go to sleep. The dose of heroin did not kill her; it did what she wanted it to do. However, because of her exhaustion, the heroin fatally compromised her natural reflexes to re-position herself while she slept. With her head surrounded by her plentiful down pillows, she slowly suffocated. Hannah did not want to die; the morning of her death she had turned in one of the last term papers needed to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. On the floor next to her bed were her LSAT study books and underneath her pillow was her "To Do" list.
Hannah was a smart, witty, caring young woman. She brought life to any party with her infectious, sometimes twisted, sense of humor. For us, and as parents, she was the daughter we all hope for. Hannah was a quiet, self-motivated honor student. She was a cool-as-a-cucumber ice hockey goalie and enjoyed skiing, swimming, traveling and playing with her family; she was also a very protective big sister to her two siblings. As Hannah went through her teen years, she gravitated towards a partying culture and became somewhat of a music "savant." As she continued on her college education at UCSC, little did Hannah realize that the all-too-easy to get, ubiquitous, and cheap heroin (price of a good espresso) would introduce itself to her and savagely alter her brain chemistry and bring with it the disease of addiction. Lacking a true understanding as to how this drug biologically and biochemically altered her brain, Hannah did not initially recognize the signs of addiction.
Last year when she realized that she had actually become dependent on heroin, she went to Urgent Care. The only "help" they could give her, and that the system provides, was a a taxi voucher home.The following day, she went to the emergency hospital where, again, she was handed a taxi voucher and sent home. In desperation, she called her mom for help. Unfortunately, like most families, we understood very little about addiction and heroin, and were unfamiliar with what steps to take to help someone break free from this drug's devastating hold. We followed what we thought was an effective course of attending a treatment center, which we NOW understand was ineffective and inadequate on many levels.