WRENTHAM (CBS) — A rally was held on Wrentham Town Common Saturday morning to help end the stigma surrounding opioid addiction.

Families gathered to share heartbreaking stories of brothers and sisters, sons and daughters lost to opioids. Many first responders were there to show support.

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The goal of the rally was to be a voice of support for all of those impacted by the opioid epidemic.

“I am sad and dying inside because I lost a piece of my heart,” said one speaker.

Joe Wencus lost his son Jeff to an addiction.

“You don’t want to be in the same club we’re at. You don’t really want to lose your son or your daughter or your husband or your wife, especially to this really awful substance abuse disorder,” he said.

Wrentham Deputy Police Chief William McGrath told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe he wants to see education, compassion, and treatment replace the stereotypes and shame that addicts often face.

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“It’s a call for them to come out of the dark, to accept help, and to begin to realize that, through education, the people in the community, the people in the state, the people in the country realize this is an illness–that addiction is an illness,” McGrath said.

Sean Merrill is four years clean. At the rally, he was able to hug the police officer who administered narcan to him after he overdosed.

Merill’s brother lost his life to addiction.

“His passing hit me hard, and it was finally what got used as a ‘you need to turn your life around,'” Merrill told WBZ-TV.

The opioid epidemic claimed the lives of 2,069 people in Massachusetts last year–a fact represented by signs around Wrentham Town Common that read “#2069.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

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