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Should recovered addicts be given extra attention when prescribed painkillers? That’s the central question STAT contributor Seth Mnookin asked Thursday in describing his recent care for kidney stones. Mnookin, who overcame an addiction to heroin nearly two decades ago, brought up his former addiction several times during his recent treatment, but was repeatedly prescribed opioid painkillers anyway.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who has been outspoken about opioid abuse, responded by complimenting his piece, saying on Twitter: “This is great work on why we have tons to do on opioids and why health care needs to get more involved in solutions.”


In a breakfast speech in Boston, Baker said the essay was a “really compelling tale about the fact that, despite all of the public attention that has been paid to this,” as well as the extra training and the concern of officials at area hospitals, Mnookin’s treatment “wildly overplayed the opioid piece.” His point, as reported by Katie Lannan of State House News, was that Mnookin wasn’t given proper care even though “he and his wife said over and over and over again to everybody he was dealing with, you know, ‘I’m a former addict.”’

To solve the problem of opioid addiction, a topic the governor has repeatedly returned to over the last year (see video below), doctors need to “disrupt the way they’ve thought about dealing with opioid addiction on the front end … because this didn’t happen by accident,” Baker said.

In a November, 2015, interview with STAT, Massachusetts' Governor Charlie Baker, spoke about opioid addiction and what can be done to rein it in. Matthew Orr/STAT