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A 16-year-old's powerful essay about dad's addiction went viral and helped mend their relationship

After bearing the emotional burden of her dad's alcoholism all by her herself for a long time, she finally shared her thoughts in a powerful essay.

A 16-year-old's powerful essay about dad's addiction went viral and helped mend their relationship
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Project Recovery With Casey Scott

Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 21, 2021. It has since been updated.

Preslee Scott spent much of her early teen years assuming the role of parent to her young siblings while her dad, Casey Scott, lay passed out drunk on the couch. Just as her mother had done before divorcing him, the Utah teen would pick up his empty beer cans and hide them in the outdoor trash bin so that her brother and sister wouldn't have to see that side of him. After bearing the emotional burden of Scott's alcoholism all by her herself for a long time, Preslee finally decided to share her thoughts in a school essay.



The 16-year-old sat in front of the computer at her home in Farmington, near Salt Lake City, and wrote: "For as long as I can remember, my dad has been an alcoholic. I remember going to parties with my dad driving there, but my mom would always be the one to drive us home. I knew how my dad would be one person when we showed up to the party, and a completely different person when we left." Preslee poured out her heart on three pages, describing the pain she felt after her parent's divorce and how Scott finally sought help after he slammed into another car one day while driving drunk.



"My dad never would have gotten sober without [the accident]," she wrote, reports The Washington Post. "He had to hit rock bottom before he could get the help he needed." Preslee received an A on the paper from her 10th-grade English teacher who also reached out to Scott, a former television news reporter. Without revealing the topic of the teen's essay, the teacher informed Scott that his daughter had written something powerful. Intrigued, the 47-year-old asked Preslee if he could read what she'd written.



"He asked to read it, but I wondered how he'd react," said Preslee. "So I stalled as long as I could." When she finally gave her dad a copy of the essay in February, Scott—who is now over two years sober—broke down in tears as he read it. "It was so raw and so real — I had to walk away to collect my thoughts," he said. "And then I thought: 'This is something that everyone needs to hear.'" In an emotional video that's been viewed over 4 million times on social media, Scott can be seen struggling to hold back tears as he read out Preslee's words on his weekly podcast, Project Recovery.


"I was not prepared to read that letter, but I knew that I had to," Scott said. "In addiction, a lot of energy and love is spent on the addict. But you don't realize the wake of damage that is caused to friends and family throughout your addiction. Many times, their story isn't heard. I knew that I needed to change that with Preslee's essay." Since posting the video online, Scott has been inundated with messages from others who'd been in similar situations. "I am a grown adult now, but I too relate to what your daughter said in her letter to you. I grew up with a Dad that was an alcoholic," one woman wrote on Facebook. "My family went through the same and my husband has been sober for over 9 years, and it's so much better now," wrote another.


The Road to Recovery

Scott, whose addiction battle began at age 14, hit rock bottom on September 3, 2018, when he smashed into a car with two young children inside. There were injuries, but none serious. Two months later, he pleaded guilty to the DUI charge and was sentenced to a year of probation. Wanting to turn his life around, Scott decided to check himself into an alcohol rehabilitation program for six weeks. "In recovery, I sat in a room with 200 people who were just like me," he said. "For the first time, I saw the faces of addiction: College kids, moms, first responders, mail carriers, the guy who helps you at the grocery store. It was anyone and everyone you could imagine."


Although Scott's time in rehab helped him form a better relationship with his children, there were more difficult days ahead. Preslee opened up about the highs and lows of spending time with her dad after he left the recovery center in her essay, writing: "One day, we were all sitting in the living room for a family meeting. My dad said, 'I've been through a lot and gone through it, kids, and we will be okay.' This made me angry and I responded with, 'Really, Dad? You think you're the only one who had a hard time throughout this?'" Preslee's words hit Scott hard and they ultimately had several honest conversations about how his addiction affected the family.


And yet, it was only after reading Preslee's essay that he truly understood, said Scott. "Her essay has given a voice to a generation of kids who have grown up with addict parents," he said. "Her words have helped these kids realize they're not so alone. This is truly a family disease, and we need to attack recovery the same way." Scott revealed that since he and Preslee made the decision to be truthful and vulnerable with each other, he awakens each morning with hope. "I tell everyone that I wish my kids had never had to go through this ugliness, but they're going to be more empathetic and loving because of it," he said. "Without alcohol, my life is 100 times harder. But it's also now 1,000 times better."

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