Local paramedic shares unique perspective on combating the opioid crisis

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (NEWS10) – A major drug bust in the Berkshires coming on the heels of a new report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showing overdoses rising in the area.

Members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force arrested a man on Wednesday at the Howard Johnson Motel in Williamstown, Massachusetts. They seized more than 160 grams of cocaine/crack cocaine, about 300 bags of heroin and over $13,000.

Northern Berkshire EMS is constantly responding to overdoses so they’re certainly happy to see the drugs taken off the streets, especially one paramedic who, for years, battled addiction himself.

“I’ve been there and I understand it. I understand what they are going through, which not a lot of first responders can say,” said Stephen Murray.

Murray was once addicted to prescription pain killers, but almost 9 years ago he entered rehab and turned his life around. He’s now a husband, a father and a Paramedic Supervisor in North Adams. Recently, he decided to speak publicly about his past in hopes of making a difference.

“I understand both sides of it. Although, the further I get away from it, the more I just want to jam it into people that you can get better and if you don’t get better you’re gonna die,” Murray said.

Murray said in his 5 years he’s responded to more than 100 overdoses, facing his past straight on. He said soon his agency will be implementing a program called Mobil Integrated Health where they will respond in the days following an overdose to have a discussion and explore options. It’s an approach Murray has already started to take on his own.

“If I go back up to the hospital and see that person there I will stop in and talk to them and have a chat. I’ve had a couple of people that I’ve actually regularly followed up with who are doing really well and I’m really proud of them,” said Murray.

He said North Adams and the surrounding area is a small community that has unfortunately been hit hard by the epidemic but says any success in combating it is a step in the right direction.

“The important thing is that we understand that there is a problem here. We’re all aware there’s a problem here and we’re all working together,” said Murry.

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