A public hearing at the State House today brought in grieving families who have lost loved ones due to addiction. They feel those deaths could’ve been prevented - and are trying to make an adjustment to the current law so their tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Thomas Berry likes to remember his son, Stephen, as the happy go lucky little boy he was - not the drug addicted teenager he became after being prescribed the pain killer OxyContin for a dirt bike injury. Berry said, “ And with addiction that runs in my family, all he needed was a couple of those puppies and he was done.
After multiple rounds of rehab, Stephen’s substance abuse was deemed dangerous enough that he was involuntarily committed to Bridgewater State hospital through a so-called section 35. He was supposed to stay for 90 days... but was released for a court date after just two weeks.
Stephen’s Uncle, David Soper said, “He was released without any professional guidance, without any notification for family members or the court itself.” Stephen went to Brockton where he bought fentanyl and was found dead the next day.
State representative Josh Cutler has filed a bill that would require families to be notified if a loved one is being released early from a treatment facility: “This is a gap in the law that we’ve seen but unfortunately it led to a tragedy… We are not talking about revealing any medical information. We’re just simply saying that when the person is released, the petitioner, which is usually the loved one, should be notified.
Plymouth County district Attorney Tim Cruz supports the bill which he believes will save lives.
“It would be a very positive thing to have the loved ones who know them the best with information so they can help them when they are released prematurely,” said Cruz.
There was no opposition to the bill at the hearing. If the bill gets a favorable vote in the house it moves onto the Senate.