Haverhill Physician, Whose Son Died of Overdose, to Attend State of the Union with Trahan

U.S. Capitol. (Photograph by Martin Falbisoner, Creative Commons.)

A Haverhill-based physician and substance use disorder advocate will accompany Congresswoman Lori Trahan tonight to the annual State of the Union address in Washington.

Dr. James Baker, whose son Max died of an overdose after a prolonged fight with addiction, successfully worked with Trahan to require prescribers of highly addictive opioids to be trained with the baseline knowledge to spot and treat patients struggling with addiction. Trahan credits Baker for the passage of her Medication Access and Training Expansion—or MATE—Act.

“After hearing Max’s story when I first took office, I knew we had to close the glaring gaps in our medical system that often prevent people fighting addiction from accessing lifesaving treatment,” said Trahan.

In a statement, Baker said, “My son Max’s story is one that far too many families across our nation have experience—addiction, recovery and ultimately death if a relapse occurs, which for Max happened right after he had surgery.” He noted, “When I attend the State of the Union as Lori’s guest…I won’t be alone. I’ll have a picture of Max next to my heart.”

Shortly after Trahan took office in 2019, she met with Baker and brought him to Washington to share Max’s story with the Bipartisan Working Group on Addiction. The working group drafted a bipartisan addiction legislative package that included Trahan’s MATE Act.

The legislation cleared the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in December 2022.

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