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16-year-old's powerful essay about dad's addiction gains attention of millions

"I knew how my dad would be one person when we showed up to the party, and a completely different person when we left.”
/ Source: TODAY

Preslee Scott, 16, used to assume the role of parent to her young siblings when their dad, Casey, was drinking.

Preslee remembers that as a middle-schooler, she would bag up empty Bud Light cans and hide them in the outdoor trash can, just as her mother had done before their divorce. When Casey was passed out drunk, she’d chalk it up to fatigue.

“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."

Casey Scott with his children, Preslee, Boden and Frankie.Amber Togisala / Togisala Photography

It’s an experience Preslee detailed in an essay for her tenth grade English class that has gone viral on Facebook. In one heart-wrenching paragraph, the Utah-based teen recalled how Casey would drive the family to parties, but her mom would be 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.”

Casey, who is more than two years sober, broke down in tears the first time he read his Preslee's paper.

“I started bawling,” Casey, 47, revealed. “It was raw. It was real. As soon as I was finished, I was like, ‘Other people have to hear this.’”

Last month, Casey shared Preslee’s words on his weekly podcast, “Project Recovery.” The emotional video has since been viewed more than 3.1 million times on Facebook. Casey has been inundated with messages.

“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.”

The road to recovery

Casey, who started abusing alcohol at age 14, hit rock bottom on Sept. 3, 2018, when he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a car with two young children inside.

“By the grace of God, nobody died,” Casey said. “But my life was forever changed.”

The very next day, Casey checked himself into a weeklong detox facility. He spent an additional 45 days at a rehab center.

Preslee knew people were gossiping about her father. At the time, Casey was a features reporter for NBC affiliate KSL TV in Utah and the crash made headlines.

“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 said. “I knew he would have to hit rock bottom before he quit.”

Preslee was right.

Casey has been sober for exactly 931 days and shares his journey of overcoming addiction on his podcast. Sobriety isn't always easy, but it's worth it, Casey noted.

His relationship with daughters Preslee, and Frankie, 13, and son, Boden, 10, has never been better.

“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.”

Preslee couldn’t be more proud of how far Casey has come.

“I used to dread spending time with him, and now I get excited,” Preslee gushed. “I consider him, my dad, my best friend.”