Thursday, June 21, 2007

Barbara Wells, rest in peace

I'm posting this to both blogs...

I wrote a story for today's paper that I hope people will read. It's about an 18-year-old girl named Barbara Wells that apparently drank herself to death a couple of months after the state shutdown a drug treatment program she was in. This is essentially what people who'd been through this program said would happen if the program shut down and was replaced by more out-patient type services.

Barbara was old enough to know better. Maybe her family should have taken better care of her. Maybe taxpayers shouldn't be forced to treat anyone with an addiction. Maybe that can be handled in the private sector and with charity.

It is so hard to keep people from hurting each other in this world, and it's even harder to stop them from hurting themselves.

But I look at the picture Barbara's mother sent us for the story I just think: "That girl needed help."

I hope that people, and particularly our elected decision makers, see people when they look at numbers. Every budget cut affects a real person. Every increase takes money from a real person's pocket. Government doesn't need to be abstract. It needs to be understood as a very real and very pervasive force in everyone's life, and the consequences of political decisions have to be acknowledged.

Like a lot of things, this story reminds me of a song, this one written by Michael Houser. In the song, Houser meets a homeless man, who asks him if he can "see the sun." The encounter makes him think about how much he's been given, what he owes others and whether one day he'll be made accountable. I've always liked the way the song ends:

I went to see my girl, told her about my day
She said sometimes life, it can be that way
But don't give up, don't give up, no
'Cause where there is love, there is hope

Tell me brother, can you see the sun
From where you're standing now
I've been up and I've been down
But I've never been to this part of town

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem with private treatment is that it is expensive. Most people can't afford it, and for those who have insurance, often the company will only cover a short stay. I know someone who tried this, and the insurance would only cover a week. The doctors thought he was fine since he wasn't having any kind of withdrawal. They let him go after seven days, and on the eighth day, he was right back out buying drugs!

A residential program like this would likely have helped him much more than his week vacation in private care!