Submitted By

Allisyn Leppla
Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Ohio
August 7, 2013

Its 7:30 a.m. and I have about 15 minutes to get out the door or I am going to be late for my morning meeting. This used to be an easy task but now with two children under the age of 3, the unpredictable is now the new predictable. On this particular morning, the kids wake up happy, get dressed, and have their morning breakfast. Everything appears to be going great and I will be able to get out the door on time. Then, I hear “uh-oh!” Never good to hear when you’re in a hurry. After cleaning up spilled milk and a quick change of clothes we are finally on our way! On the morning commute we have the usual traffic and a request from my 3-year-old to hear Zac Brown Band. I smile and oblige. My thoughts are torn between the conversations I am having with my children and what items need to be discussed at our monthly Opiate Task Force Conference Planning Committee meeting.

Later that morning, as I am sitting in my meeting, I watch a video that highlights the stories of four teenage opiate addicts who are in recovery, as well as testimonies of mothers who have lost a child to opiate addiction. I am suddenly reminded of how important both of my jobs are and the reasons I am passionate about each of them. As a parent, I am responsible for the health, well being, and happiness of my children. I get to watch them experience things for the first time and would give anything to preserve their innocence. As a public health professional, I am tasked with raising awareness to the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse.

I work closely with community partners to create formats that will hopefully open the eyes of individuals to the realities of prescription drug abuse while empowering them to consider choices that can be made to avoid addiction.

There is an overwhelming sense of several emotions when I reflect on just one day’s work, particularly pride and fear; pride, because my kids are going to bed with their bellies full and have loving parents and because I have the opportunity to prevent a teenager from taking a pill just because they heard their friends are doing it, and fear that one day my children could make the same naïve mistake that some of these other children have made when it come to experimenting with drugs and fear that we are not doing enough, fast enough to raise awareness to this rising epidemic.

But, the one emotion I want to hold onto is hope. I am hopeful that I will instill good values in my children and empower them with the tools to make smart decisions throughout their lives and I am also hopeful that during my career I will see this epidemic come to an end and the number of individuals dying from an accidental overdose will be dramatically decreased.

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