Editorial: Can student loan debt be opioid solution? | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Can student loan debt be opioid solution?


Solutions can be obvious if we open ourselves to seeing them.

Doctors and scientists have a way of looking at something as both a problem and a solution. Something can be poison in one dose, medicine in another. HIV is being manipulated to fight cancer. Radiation can fuel a bomb, light your home or image your broken bone.

Government can learn something from that. Sometimes it does.

Let’s look at a couple of problems. First, we have an opioid crisis.

A kind of spin-off of that problem: We have areas with tragically high opioid use that are countered by shortfalls in the number of people who can treat addiction.

Another problem: A lot of Pennsylvania students are graduating from college with crippling student loan debt.

These issues have been looked at under a lot of microscopes. How do we cure the opioid addiction? How do we treat people when we don’t have enough treatment available? How do we make college affordable enough to help produce the workforce we need?

It gets attention at the federal level. Both opioids and student loans are hot topics on the Democratic presidential primary trail. Most of the proposals seem lofty and aspirational but their practicality can be questioned.

Gov. Tom Wolf has put out a plan at the state level that seems more concrete. It doesn’t look at the problems individually. It just might work because it sees them as part of a whole.

The administration will seek $5 million in federal grants and use them to see treatment to those high-use areas — including Allegheny County — by repaying student loans for people who commit to working in approved treatment facilities.

Directing that money toward one problem or the other might see some results, but looking at them as cells in the same organism allows the dollars to be spent in a way that kicks off a chain of events. It doesn’t press a button to turn on a light. It rolls the marble that hits the switch that presses the button, getting more return on the investment.

That’s smart for the government, smart for the taxpayers, smart for the professionals who took out those loans and smart for the people who need addiction treatment. It’s an answer that seems obvious now that it is spelled out.

We just have to be willing to see solutions instead of only problems.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.