On July 7 Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor traveled to Cleveland to officially announce she was running for governor, it was a month after being forced to make another announcement that her two sons were both dealing with opioid addiction.
"I was asked a question by a reporter," recalled Taylor. "And so we knew that a story was going to be written and ultimately I made the decision with my family that I wanted to be, I wanted the story told my way."
The timing is never right for a parent in that situation but that was especially true for Taylor and her husband Don. “We were still in the throes of just getting my older son back to treatment, it had been just a short period of time since he overdosed and getting him back into treatment and so it was still very fresh, very painful.”
The Taylors talked with their sons 26 and 23 at the time before they said anything in public.
“I wanted them to tell me what their boundaries were and what they were comfortable that I said and didn’t say and my boundary is I will never say anything that harms my boys or harms my boys’ recovery.”
But as a family, they also knew that in their story others might find help or inspiration.
“This whole addiction crisis thrived in the shadows because no one was willing to talk about it and I don’t think everybody knew what was going on. People were embarrassed, they were ashamed for any number of reasons and so I think it is really, really important for people to talk about it for hope, so that people can have hope that there’s a solution but there’s also a lot of healing that comes with being able to talk about this,” Taylor said.
“It is a brain disease, it does not discriminate. It can impact anybody at any time no matter who or where or what you are.”
Taylor pointed to a recent Ohio State study that showed the far-reaching economic impact of the crisis on the state could be running north of $8 billion a year including the inability of business owners to find employees who can pass a drug test or the lack of needed skills to fill open jobs.
“It’s impacting every single one of us.”
“This gives me a personal understanding that none of my opponents have. I don’t wear that as a badge of honor, I would have chosen never to be here if I had had the choice but I am and because I am, because it’s personal, I’m very passionate about it and I’m also driven to put forth a real solution that I believe is comprehensive in a way that we can actually restore hope for people living in addiction and we can prevent people from becoming addicted and we can prop up our law enforcement and our narcotics officers and put the drug dealers in prison where they belong,” Taylor said.
Six months after coming forward Taylor said her sons are doing well with her youngest back in college.
“He’s just getting ready to finish this semester and looking forward to final exams and my older son is just moving out of what we call sober living or recovery living, actually just moved out December 1st and moved into an apartment with two roommates,” she said. “He’s working on a service project and he’s helping a native American Indian tribe in Southern Utah.”
Sharing that part of the story in December was easier than what she faced in June.
“Because my boys today are doing very well and recovery is one day at a time it’s easier to talk about but that was hard.”