Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor revealed Thursday that her sons are fighting opiate addictions.
Taylor’s sons Joe, 26, and Michael, 23, have undergone treatment for addiction, said Taylor.
“Like many Ohioans, my family is struggling with addiction, and the opiate crisis has, you know, it’s come in my front door,” Taylor told the Dayton Daily News.
Like so many other families, the Taylors were swept up by the opiate crisis gripping Ohio.
Ohio ranks number one in the nation for accidental drug overdoses, leading to 3,050 deaths in 2015, according to a report by the Ohio Department of Health. Accidental drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of injury-caused deaths in Ohio, according to the ODH.
Opiates have taken so many lives that a coroner's office in Dayton, Ohio, ran out of space to store the bodies in early February 2017, reported the NYT. Another coroner's office in Stark County had to use a cold-storage trailer as an overflow morgue, according to The Washington Post.
For Taylor, the past five years spent fighting her sons’ addictions have included failed drug rehab programs, two overdoses at home, and calls to ambulances.
“Honestly, I don’t know that you could say one thing was worse than another,” Taylor told the Dayton Daily News. “I know people who have lost their kids. I’ve been to a funeral of somebody, a young person, who died of a heroin overdose. It’s not pretty. Until we found the treatment that worked for [our sons], the voice of worry was very loud and it was very scary. Very scary.”
Taylor’s sons are now doing well, though one is still in treatment. Taylor hinted that their addictions may have begun with prescription pain medications, and advised parents to be vigilant about their children’s use of prescribed pain pills.
Taylor’s ability to help other families with addiction will also likely determine her political future. Taylor, a Republican, plans to run for governor in 2018. Her ability to arrest the opiate crisis devastating Ohio will play a key role in determining whether she will become Gov. John Kasich’s successor.
Taylor has pledged that, if elected, she will strictly limit the opiate prescriptions for short-term pain, construct a public awareness campaign for children, and maintain the availability of the opiate-antidote drug naloxone used to save those in the midst of an overdose.
For now, her advice to families struggling with addiction is to have hope.
“If you’re a parent in a family and you are struggling with this crisis, I think it’s important to always have hope,” Taylor told the Dayton Daily News. “There are resources available. I can tell you as a parent I felt at times that there weren’t and I think the most important thing as a family truly, truly is to believe that there is hope. There can be a light at the end of the tunnel where you may today feel like you can’t see the light.”