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Stories that Heal Ep. 6: Dealing with the loss of both parents to addiction

Elijah Hacker moved to Benzie County five years ago. He was born and raised in Flint for 14 years.

"So I was there for the whole Flint water crisis and all that kind of stuff," he said. "I witnessed it in real time."

His brother and his dad were fine, but Hacker says his mom and sister were sick. He says his mom had hallucinations from it.

"It was wild," he said. "She got really sick for a minute there. And hearing friends and family that are going through similar situations is like, wow, this is really really strange."

Elijah is a musician himself – which is what got him interested in the "Stories that Heal" songwriting workshop.

Addiction started creeping into his parents' life when Elijah was about 10. When he was 14, both his parents died from fentanyl overdoses.

"I had a really decent childhood," he said. "I wasn't abused in any way I didn't. Luckily, I had nothing harmful happened to me physically or emotionally."

His parents put up a good facade, he says. But for Elijah, he doesn’t want to pretend he’s fine.

The workshop only solidified that feeling.

"I want to get it figured out, so it doesn't explode," he said. "Because growing up with people who didn't do that just kind of trained me from a very young age, like, if you don't figure that out now, what you're feeling right now 10 years down the road, you could be leaving people behind that you never meant to."

"Stories That Heal" is a Community Partnership project by the Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network with funding from Arts Midwest, Michigan Arts & Culture Council & National Endowment for the Arts.