'When they get out, it's too late': New bill would notify family of rehab release

BROCKTON, Mass. - A father who lost his son to an overdose is fighting to change the law to help save others from going through the same tragedy.

Stephen Berry loved riding dirt bikes. But the teen’s father says after a bad crash, he ended up in the hospital and addicted to painkillers.

“When those ended he switched over to the heroin,” Stephen’s father, Thomas Berry said.

Stephen died from an overdose last year. He was 20 years old. His father and uncle are calling on lawmakers to change the state law to require loved ones to be notified when someone is released from involuntary treatment.

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“Upon release, instead of recovery, he received money and a train ticket,” Thomas testified in court. “[He] bought fentanyl and died hours later after I knew about his release.”

They say Stephen was released days before he was supposed to be and his family was never told.

“You have a 20-year-old young man, fighting a drug addiction, who lands alone in Brockton with several hundred dollars in his pocket while his family still thinks he is in state care,” Stephen’s uncle testified in court.

State Representative Josh Cutler (D-Plymouth) wrote a bill that change the law to require family be notified.

“The clinicians felt that he was well enough to be released. We don't dispute that,” Rep. Cutler said. The only issue I have with the process is, ‘why weren't parents notified?’”

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Cutler says the new law would include information about the person being released from the treatment center. There would be no medical information included.

“We are just trying to make sure when they are released that they their petitioners, their parents or whoever the petitioner is, is notified," Rep. Cutler said.

Stephen's father believes if he was able to connect with his son before he walked out of the treatment center -- he could have had a better chance keeping him alive.

“That's the time to catch them when they are in there and they are sober, and they are not thinking about it. When they get out it's too late," Thomas said.

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