While most teenagers are consumed with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and eventually earning their driver's license, Preslee Scott was carrying the weight of the world.
Casey Scott, her 47-year-old dad from Utah, started drinking when he was just 14 years old. The habit eventually turned into an addiction that, for Casey and his family, seemed to blur any light there might have been at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, through a series of unfortunate events and total miracles, Casey now wakes up every morning a sober man — and his daughter Preslee gets to enjoy her days more than ever!
After her parents' divorce, Preslee, a middle schooler at the time, assumed the role of sibling caregiver. She would bag up Casey's old beer cans and make excuses for her dad to protect her two younger siblings, now 13-year-old Frankie and 10-year-old Boden.
"I was anxious all the time because I didn't want my brother and sister to see that part of him," Preslee told Today Health. "I felt like I had to be a grown-up when we were with him, like it was my job to protect them."
Once she hit high school, she finally took pen to paper and revealed her difficult experiences in a tenth-grade English class essay — which has since gone viral.
Among her difficult memories, she recalls her dad always being the one to drive their families to parties and her mom always being the one to drive them home.
"A part of me wanted it to be just them being nice and taking turns driving, but I always knew the truth," Preslee wrote. "I knew the way that too much alcohol could affect someone. I knew how my dad would be one person when we showed up to the party, and a completely different person when we left."
It all came to a head on September 3, 2018, when Casey got behind the wheel drunk, resulting in a wreck with two young children in the other car.
"By the grace of God, nobody died," Casey said. "But my life was forever changed."
As a reporter for KSL TV, an NBC affiliate in Utah, Casey's accident turned into whispers around their town, and he decided to get help.
"I wasn't embarrassed. I was relieved, honestly. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when he went to rehab. All I ever wanted was for him to stop drinking and he couldn't do it on his own," Preslee explained. "I knew he would have to hit rock bottom before he quit."
His rock-bottom moment finally led him to an epiphany: He wasn't the only one going through his addiction — he was putting his entire family through it, too. That's when Casey decided that something permanent needed to change.
Now two years sober, Casey recollected his first time seeing Preslee's English paper.
"I bawled. It was too raw and too real. It was like watching a scary movie," he said. "As soon as I was finished, I was like, 'Other people have to hear this.'"
So he took to his podcast, Project Recovery, sharing Preslee's words and elaborating on his own personal journey to sobriety. The video has now reached over 3 million views on Facebook.
"I've had dads reach out to me to say, 'I'm gonna give sobriety another shot. I didn't realize how I was affecting my kids,'" Casey said. "We want to let people know that there's hope. It can get better."
For many kids, Preslee's letter has become an anthem about their own experiences and has given them hope that their family story's could change, too.
Clinical psychologist and Casey's podcast cohost, Dr. Matt Woolley, explained, "[Addiction is] damaging to [kids'] developing sense of self, their identity, who they believe they are and can be. It's also a very lonely place to be."
But now that Preslee has her dad back, she feels more seen and cared for than ever before.
"When I was drinking, I wasn't present. I was just thinking about getting that next beer," Casey said. "Now, I'm in the moment. We have these awesome, honest conversations."
After over 930 days of sobriety, Casey feels like a whole new man. He continues to inspire his listeners that sobriety and redemption are possible for them.
"I consider him, my dad, my best friend," Preslee said. As she wrote in her paper, "My dad is working so hard to get back where he was, and I'm so proud of him."
Listen to her tear-jerking essay in the video below, and share this phenomenal story of recovery with a friend.
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