Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Dr. Sarah Wakeman is the Medical Director for the Mass General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is also the Medical Director of the Mass General Hospital Addiction Consult Team and a clinical lead of the Partners Healthcare Substance Use Disorder Initiative. She received her A.B. from Brown University and her M.D. from Brown Medical School. She completed residency training in internal medicine and served as Chief Medical Resident at Mass General Hospital. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. She is secretary for the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine and chair of the policy committee. She previously served on Governor Baker’s Opioid Addiction Working Group. Clinically she provides specialty addiction and general medical care in the inpatient and outpatient setting at Mass General Hospital and the Mass General Charlestown Health Center. Her active research projects include a study evaluating the impact of addiction consultation on hospitalized medical patients with substance use disorder; a qualitative study exploring the role of recovery coaches for patients with substance use disorder; the healthcare cost and utilization impact of increased addiction treatment services across a health system; and the impact of a hospital-wide substance use disorder initiative on physician attitudes, preparedness, and clinical practice related to substance use disorder.


Posts by Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Saving lives by prescribing naloxone with opioid painkillers

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Unintentional opioid overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. These drugs are prescribed to patients to help relieve pain, but overdoses happen because opioids can also depress breathing, sometimes stopping it altogether. But naloxone, also called Narcan, can help reverse the effects of an overdose. If doctors prescribe naloxone at the same time as opioids, overdose deaths may decrease.

Words matter: The language of addiction and life-saving treatments

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

The challenges of drug addiction are compounded by stigmatizing language and incorrect perceptions about the medications used in addiction treatment. Viewing addiction as a disease and likening it to other chronic diseases can help remove the negative connotations from the illness.

Fentanyl: The dangers of this potent “man-made” opioid

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. It is far more potent — and potentially more dangerous — than heroin and morphine. Overdose deaths related to fentanyl are on the rise. The drug is cheaper than heroin and recently is being used to dilute heroin or substitute for it. Users may be unaware that they are taking this potent drug, or may even seek its intense high. People at risk from using fentanyl can be treated successfully with therapies used for other opioid use disorders, but taking steps to prevent overdose are critical until a person is ready to seek care.