Dr. Stuart Gitlow

Dr. Stuart Gitlow

WOONSOCKET – FBI agents spent hours Saturday searching the secluded North End home and nearby clinical office of Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a psychiatrist with a national profile in addiction medicine who twice ran for a seat in the General Assembly.

Kristen Setera, spokeswoman for the FBI's Boston field office, confirmed that the agency executed court-authorized warrants to search Gitlow's home, located at 153 Gaskill St., and an office at 32 Mechanic Ave., a sprawling brick factory building off Pond Street with multiple tenants.

Because the warrants were executed as part of an ongoing investigation, Setera said she could not comment on what the FBI was looking for or whether Gitlow is a target of the probe.

In a brief phone conversation, Gitlow acknowledged that FBI agents had searched his home over the weekend, but he says he doesn't know what they were looking for.

“They were looking at patient records – I don't know why,” said Gitlow. “I have no idea what the underlying reasoning would be.”

Saying he had to take another call, Gitlow abruptly cut off the conversation, but he invited this reporter to call him back in a few minutes. When the requested callback was placed, no one answered.

Gitlow, 56, is the immediate past president of the American Society for Addiction Medicine, headquarted in Chevy Chase, Md. Founded in 1954, the organization now has more than 4,000 member physicians who specialize in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. He is also the founder and executive director of Annenberg Physician Training Program, which is dedicated to improving addiction medicine and recruiting physicians to the field.

Since March 2017, Gitlow has served as the chief medical officer for The Recovery Research Network, which is touted as an adult-only, outpatient treatment program that uses “proprietary software” to improve outcomes. The clinic is headquartered in Atlantis, Fla., just outside Lake Worth. Gitlow is also on the faculty of the University of Florida, according to his online resume and the university's staff directory.

Tom Geving, the manager of 32 Mechanic Ave. – also known as Woonsocket Industrial Complex LLC – says Gitlow has a clinical office in the factory building, which houses a mix of professional and light manufacturing tenants. The owners of the 118-year-old, 185,000-square-foot site also run a portion of it as a self-storage facility.

Geving, who witnessed a portion of the FBI search, said there is no sign on the door of Gitlow's office in the complex, but he is known to see patients regularly only on one Saturday per month, though some trickle in sporadically at other times. Often, Geving said, Gitlow's patients travel quite a distance to see the doctor.

“I've seen people just get out of a taxi after being picked up at the airport,” said Geving. “When they leave they get right back in a taxi and they go back to the airport.”

Geving said that when Gitlow opens the Saturday clinic “there are quite a number of people who come in and out.”

Geving said the FBI search appaerently dovetailed with one of Gitlow's office-hour Saturdays, because a number of patients arrived while the law enforcement activity was in progress. He said other workers saw FBI agents searching the motor vehicle of a patient.

The nature of the clinical interactions that take place in Gitlow's Mechanic Street office are unknown, but he is a well-known advocate for treating opioid addiction with Suboxone, the brand name of a generic drug known as buprenorphine. Like methadone, buprenorphine staves off the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid-based painkillers such as heroin and fentanyl, two of the most problematic substances currently plaguing the state – and much of the country – with an epidemic of overdose fatalities.

The state Department of Health said 314 people died in 2017 from overdoses of fentanyl, heroin, or some combination of the two. The number of deaths represents a decline of about 8 percent since the previous year.

In a 2016 interview with the Tribune-Democrat of Pennsylvania, Gitlow explained how heroin addiction can cause “brain abnormalities” that make it “difficult to treat at best.”

“With opiates,” he said. “it can be treated to some degree with buprenorphine. It is an opiate, but it works differently than the rest of them. Buprenorphine has what is called a ceiling effect. So it does not lead to the negative consequences, but it does lead to relief.”

If Gitlow's name sounds familiar, it may be because he twice ran for state representative from Woonsocket's District 49 – a seat currently held by State Rep. Michael Morin.

In September 2010, he ran in the Democratic primary against Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, who was the incumbent at the time. Baldelli-Hunt defeated Gitlow 719-173 and went on to run unopposed in the general election that November, according to records at the Board of Canvassers office.

Gitlow took another stab at the District 49 seat in 2012, taking part in a three-way Democratic primary that also included Baldelli-Hunt and Michael Morin. Baldelli-Hunt won the primary with 726 votes, while Morin finished second with 333. Gitlow finished a distant third, with 78 votes. Baldelli-Hunt later went on to defeat the former Michael Moniz – he recently changed his name to Michael Disney – in the general election.

Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas F. Oates III said that members of the Woonsocket Police Department provided assistance to the FBI while they searched the Gitlow's residence and the Mechanic Avenue factory building.

But he said he doesn't know what the investigation is about and wouldn't be able to say if he did.

“We did provide some assistance to them while they were here, but this is not our investigation,” said Oates. “We are not a part of this action.”

Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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(17) comments

American Citizen

Dr. Gitlow & his associate are great people! I am one of his patience & can honestly say they truly care about us! He does what a doctor is suppose to do & he does his job very well! I'm going to continue to go to him, I will (not) find another doctor like the Fed's told me to, which by the way was a very rude way to treat us just because we are recovering addicts! I am a Mom, a wife, as well as a teacher! I take my life & my job very seriously, just as Dr. Gitlow does! He doesn't just had me a script & then sends me on my way! Smh nope, he sits me down after I take my urine test, he asks me how I am doing & not just with the meds but in my life all together. He truly cares which is more then what I can say for some other's in this practice. He interacts with my children when I have to bring them with me & he reassures me that I am a great mother, teacher, & just a great person all around! He wants us to do the best we can in life without drug's & alcohol in it. If it wasn't for him, a lot of people who have been seeing him for years now would be dead!!! Unless your a part of this huge epidemic of that has swept our nation, you wouldn't understand, because you know nothing of what (we) face on a everyday basis just to remain a good part of Society. I have struggled for years without anybody knowing & now I am able to preform my duty as a great teacher, teaching your children mind you, to be the best they can be in life without life's everyday stress interfering! Dr. Gitlow we support you to the fullest!!! You are a great man, who has given us lots of hope in life & if need be I will support you all the way to the Senate, just as you have supported myself & other's in this horrible disease that could have taken my life if it wasn't for you! Thank you Dr. Gitlow, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the care you have provided to many!!☺

MissKimberly372

Make sure you do find another doctor. It will be temporary. It's so important that you continue working your recovery! Please!!!!!!! If you need help, you can message me on Facebook.

My full name is Kimberly Bussey.

MissKimberly372

I don't know where you are, but there's a psyciatrist in Plymouth who is accepting patients. He accepts MassHealth. His name is Dr. Ronald Bugaoan. 617-817-2833 will bring you to his secretary. I don't think they're open today, Saturday, but they will be on Monday.

Knowurfacts1oo

Dr.Gitlow, we your patients first off want to SAY THANK YOU,we stand behind you 100%.youren amazing Doctor who follows the law to a tee. I remember needing my prescription filled a day early and he would not do it,saying "I'm sorry but unfortunately I have to follow a law that the DEA monitors very carefully.
With that said,Dr.Gitlow is not going to favor one patient more than other and knowing the government is "watching" very carefully,he's not going to do something to jeopardize what he's worked so hard for,what he looks at more like his passion,then a job.
Dr.Gitlow ~ WE THANK YOU!IF IT WASN'T FOR YOU A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD BE DEAD!
WE STAND BEHIND OUR DOCTOR!

American Citizen

I couldn't agree more with you!!!☺ He does EVERYTHING by the book's, the way he is suppose to & doesn't just do it for the money! He does it to REALLY HELP US, when other's have looked at me like I was just a junkie trying to get high!😔 He NEVER ONCE has judged us or looked at us like we are less then!
ABSOLUTELY DO WE STAND BEHIND OUR DOCTOR!!!☺ He is a wonderful man who does this to HELP our country, not hurt it or anyone in it!💯

MissKimberly372

Thank you! All of us patients need to speak up. This wasn't right!

Pauline

It's my understanding that the search warrant specifies WHY they are searching, and the owner can see it before/during a search. So from what the doctor wants us to believe is, he had no idea why. Did not see the warrant??? No sign on his office door??? PPl just get out from all over, in cabs, to receive treatment?? We all know what this looks like by now, and what it may lead to as to this giant opiod addiction and ease of attaining from some doctors, without appropriate testing and screening.

MissKimberly372

I am one of Dr. Gitlow's patients. I have been for almost eight years. I can assure you, Pauline, Dr. Gitlow is properly testing his patients. He is an excellent psyciatrist, who cares about getting addicts into proper recovery. He follows I was at the office when the FBI showed up. I was waiting my turn to see him and Dr. Abrahams. The FBI turned quite a few patients away without getting to see the doctor. They handed us a paper, with a blank map, and said "Find a new doctor". There was no warning. Now, I have five days to find a new psyciatrist. This may be easy for somebody without an addiction, but it's not easy for addicts.

American Citizen

MissKimberly, I absolutely agree! An as far as the way the FBI treated us that day😔 smh

MissKimberly372

It was very insensitive. You can also go onto The Call's Facebook page and comment under this article.

I did that (Kimberly Bussey), and a journalist got back to me on doing an interview regarding this.

Pauline

It surely sounds like he is following testing guidelines, maybe even too often in order to supplement income. Sometimes insurers have a keen eye for over-testing and payout.
As for his treatment of his patients, researching him has shown he has taken quite a bit of money from the very manufacturers of the meds he prescribes for your treatments. This also raises a red flag. A full investigation with FBI, DEA, RI Medical Board, etc, will reveal just what has been happening and prompted this raid. They usually already have much information and have been monitoring before such an action. I hope for your continued progress, and that you find another physician soon. This was quite a shock for you all. God bless.

MissKimberly372

Hi Pauline. I, personally, had five days to find a new psyciatrist because I get a month prescription. I stretched my medication, and have an appointment on this coming Tuesday with a physician. The paper the agents gave us was a paper with a few links for suicide prevention, veterans assistance, and a link to a search engine meant to help find Suboxone doctors. It was stapled to another sheet with a blank map. It looked like they Googled Suboxone treatment, hit the first ad, and printed. They could've just saved the trees and staples. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I am. The way we were treated was subpar at best. I'm not worried about myself. I'll be fine. I'm worried about all his other patients who aren't as far in recovery as me, and/or don't have the resources I have to find another doctor.

Did you have a chance to watch him lecture? He's really good.

MissKimberly372

Dr. Gitlow follows a strict guideline on how his patients are to act while at his office, and what we are to do to maintain a clean lifestyle. We take a drug screen monthly at the office.

I recommend watching some of his videos on YouTube about addiction and treatment. You can simply type "Dr. Stuart Gitlow" in the search bar of any search engine and you will find plenty of information on Dr. Gitlow. He is not the bad guy here. He helps a lot of people around the nation.

MissKimberly372

https://youtu.be/tAqppOCe_sE

I posted a couple of replies, but now they're gone. I did abide by the community standards. Oh well. This is a link to Dr. Gitlow discussing addiction and treatment. I think it would help you understand.

American Citizen

Hello Pauline!☺
Just wondering do you go to him? Do you use Suboxone? I can tell you right now, that every time I had gone to Dr. Gitlow I have been tested properly & have been screened every single time before getting my prescription & I've never seen anyone in the whole 2yrs that I have been going to him get out of a cab that has just came from a airport! lol That I feel is a little far fatched, an is kind of funny because the own of the building has NEVER ONCE come over to any of us & had a conversation to know any of what he has stated to be truth! That's just his word's...Not facts!☺

MissKimberly372

I have never seen anybody take a taxi to the building either. I've been seeing him for eight years.

Pauline

No, never had a need for an addiction specialist but I do empathize with you and respect what you are doing for yourself and in your treatment. That being said, I was a methadone nurse for many years....and for people to come from far away, out of taxis, and be treated by him does deserve a second look.
I do not like the way you all were treated that day however by the FBI, given a paper to find another doctor suddenly. That is a very hard crude action but we do not know all the details. From what you say, he did adhere to testing and treatment so it is with great interest as an addiction treatment nurse to see how this raid came about, and what triggered the action. Did they shut him down? From what you indicate, the paper you were handed said you had 5 days to find another physician, indicating they may have shut down his unmarked office. I wish you all the best, for a safe recovery, and respect your voice and action in this. God bless.

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