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Baker wants US to take more ‘aggressive’ steps on opioid crisis

This one-on-one with Governor Charlie Baker is moderated by Washington Post Health and Medicine reporter Lenny Bernstein.
This one-on-one with Governor Charlie Baker is moderated by Washington Post Health and Medicine reporter Lenny Bernstein.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday laid out a series of areas where he’d like to see the federal government get more “aggressive” in the fight against opioid addiction.

“I would love to see the feds get very aggressive about education,” Baker said at a Washington Post Live event at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Safe prescribing and pain management practices could be incorporated into medical schools and continuing education nationally, modeled after the approach at schools in Massachusetts, he said.

A member of President Trump’s opioid commission, Baker said he’d also like to see the federal government amp up efforts around recovery coaches — a treatment approach he said Massachusetts is trying to figure out how to “embed” into the health care system.

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An opioid bill that Baker filed in November aims to “create sort of a structured program around recovery coaching,” he said Thursday. An ongoing recovery coach pilot program has yielded encouraging preliminary results, Baker said.

“We have seen some significant positive developments in those interactions, translating into people moving into treatment,” he said. “And now the key is we have to figure out how to get them to stay in treatment.”

The Post event gathered elected officials, medical experts, and advocates from around New England, which has been hard hit by the opioid crisis, to discuss how they have been combating the scourge.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh cited the city’s efforts, which include establishing the Recovery Services and hiring new outreach workers to connect addicted people on the street with services.

“We’ve made it simple -- pick up the phone and call 311,” said Walsh, who is openly in recovery from alcoholism. Still, he acknowledged, “the task is daunting.’’


Material from The Boston Globe was included in this report.