#51 Nzinga Harrison, MD: The ‘correct way’ to understand and support those suffering with substance use disorders


Manage episode 303611777 series 2943299
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As the daughter of a public school teacher/administrator and an electrical engineer, who was also the commander of the local Black Panther Party, Nzinga was raised as an advocate who always knew she would become a doctor and a teacher. In medical school, her world was upended by a psychiatry rotation that drove her into mental health care within the context of social & political factors. Compassion, connection, and relationships drive health. Coming correct to substance use disorder treatment means bringing the compassion and resource we offer cancer patients and the biological, social, & cultural interventions we use to manage the lifelong chronic illness that is diabetes. We wouldn’t drop off a newly diagnosed diabetic who just spent 5 days in the ICU stabilizing their blood sugar into their old neighborhood without medication, education, and connection to ongoing care and social support because this doesn’t make any sense. Why do we do this with people suffering with substance use disorders?

With joy, humor incredible wisdom, and a take-no-prisoners attitude, Nzinga points out how perceptions of safety or threat (not necessarily present-day reality as intergenerational trauma informs current day perceptions) can drive behavior. We discuss ‘safety pie’ and how equity means the hungriest person gets the biggest piece and some people might not get any today because they had a lot yesterday and just don't really need it.

Nzinga pulled all of this brilliance together into the company she co-founded and serves as Chief Medical Officer, Eleanor Health, which offers wrap-around harm-reduction care for people with substance use disorders. Lest you think she’s an idealistic hippie, you have to know that in its first year open, Eleanor Health reduced hospitalizations by 85% for its served population- better than you find with any pharmaceutical.

Please listen to this show- the majority of us have people in our lives who have suffered or are suffering in various stages of substance use disorders. Learning how to come correct and that Eleanor Health is available in multiple states across the country is elemental for us to heal ourselves, each other and our communities.



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