Earlier this week, my oldest friend gave me a call. We grew up together in New Orleans, and he delivered some sad news. Another friend of ours, “Chris,” had died of a drug overdose.
I hadn’t been particularly close to Chris in the last 20 years, but it always stings when a childhood friend suddenly passes away. And this one stung a little more, because I had been in contact with him in the last few months.
You see, Chris had been battling alcoholism for a while. A skilled computer programmer, he’d lost his career due to his drinking issues. My friend had me contact him to see if there was any work he could do for us. It turns out his skills matched some work we needed done, so I asked if he wanted to work on a small project for us.
His response surprised me. He needed to rebuild his career. He needed something to occupy his time. But he had to turn down my offer, because taking a part time gig would have made him lose his state and federal benefits.
So here was a guy who had fallen in a hole. And instead of the system encouraging him to get out of the hole, it was sending food, water, doctors and money INTO the hole. The system was doing what it could do to keep him satisfied in the hole. To be worth leaving the hole, he needed a really great job offer. But he couldn’t take small offers and show he was back in order to prove he was ready for a good offer.
And so instead of a guy doing some part time work and rebuilding his career, you end up with a guy with nothing to occupy his time, leaving alcohol rehab, and 12 days later finding something harder that killed him. Thank you system.