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letters | Governor-elect to target addiction

Pushing pain medication opens gateway to opiate addiction

In an interview at his Swampscott home, Governor-elect Charlie Baker spoke of making the state’s opiate addiction crisis a priority in his term.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Governor-elect Charlie Baker’s concern about the opiates prescribed for his son’s injury is well placed (“Baker to target opiate addiction”). The root cause of the opiate epidemic, which is the leading cause of accidental deaths in Massachusetts, is legal prescription drugs.

I have heard firsthand from countless families whose loved ones became addicted to painkillers that were initially prescribed by doctors for short-term pain issues or from teenagers experimenting with unused prescription drugs unwittingly stored in the family medicine cabinet. Once one is addicted to these opiate-based painkillers, heroin is a cheaper alternative.

No one wakes up one day deciding to try heroin and become an addict. Overprescribing of pain medications has become the gateway path to heroin addiction, even under the care of a physician.

Today, thousands of families in Massachusetts are struggling to obtain the support and resources needed to save the lives of their children and to help them get the long-term treatment required to conquer this powerful addiction.


We applaud the recent efforts of Governor Patrick in combating this crisis and are heartened by the actions Baker has taken to protect his own family and to make this a key priority for his administration.

Joanne Peterson
Executive director
Learn to Cope