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my father is an addict
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My father is an addict — one child’s letter about addiction

FARMINGTON, Utah — Casey Scott has shared his public journey of recovery and overcoming addiction in Project Recovery, his weekly KSL podcast.

Scott has been sober for almost three years, and recently he shared a letter he received from his oldest daughter Preslee. She wrote the letter for her English class. It’s about her own journey through his addiction.

The letter was recently shared on the podcast and on social media where it’s been seen more than 2.8 million times. This week, Casey and Preslee spoke to KSLTV about their experiences.

If father is an addict, it’s a family disease

Preslee, Scott’s 16-year-old daughter, said the assignment was given in her English class. Students were to write a personal narrative, a piece of non-fiction about something that changed their lives.

Preslee Scott’s story

She said she knew the story she wanted to tell almost immediately. She titled her essay, “Back then, and now.”

“This narrative is about my life so far. I’m going to talk about how addiction has affected my life, and all the things in between,” the letter began.

“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.”

She wrote about the fights her parents had when they thought she was asleep.

“I remember thinking, maybe one day it’ll stop. One day the fighting will stop and we can be happy all the time.”

The letter reveals that Preslee felt she needed to grow up a lot faster than other kids her age. She detailed what it was like after her parents divorced, and how she felt she needed to babysit her younger siblings when her dad was drunk. Her parents, she wrote, would argue over “the most stupid things.”

Casey Scott’s story

“I wasn’t a fun dad to be around. I slept a lot. I yelled a lot and I wasn’t present,” Scott said. “We started this interview by saying, ‘what is family?’ Family is everything to me, but in my addiction, it wasn’t,” Casey said. 

In 2018 Casey was arrested after causing a crash in Kaysville, Utah while he was driving under the influence. That experience happened to Casey, but Preslee wrote that it was another aspect of having a father that was an addict that she had to deal with as well.

“It was on the news everywhere and … it was just hard to know that my whole like family and personal stuff was just everywhere and I couldn’t really escape it,” Preslee said. “Going to school was hard and having kids come up to you in the halls asking how your dad was.”

A father’s addiction and its effect on children

“I used to always say to my ex-wife and my kids, ‘what do you care? This is me and my body, I’m doing what I want,’” he said.

But I didn’t realize the carnage that I was causing, the rifts in my family that I was creating with my mom, my dad, my brothers, my children.”

Casey’s co-host on Project Recovery is a clinical psychologist and University of Utah professor Dr. Matt Woolley. He said Casey’s initial response is a common thought for those struggling with addiction.

But it’s not true. A whole family is affected if a father is an addict, and it can be especially damaging for children.

“A child needs a parent to be present,” Woolley said, and that is something that addiction prevents.

That neglect is damaging to their developing sense of self, their identity, who they are, who they believe they are, and it’s also a very lonely place to be,” Woolley said. “You may have shown up to all the ballet recitals, but you don’t remember them, and the kids don’t feel that you’re there.”

That realization is something that Preslee’s letter brought into focus for Casey.

 “Addiction really is a family disease,” he said. “I didn’t realize when I got that letter, what a gift it truly was. The power of one 16-year-old little girl – it’s amazing!”