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Missoula Mayor Engen back on the job after alcoholism treatment - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula Mayor Engen back on the job after alcoholism treatment

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Missoula Mayor John Engen (MTN News photo) Missoula Mayor John Engen (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

Missoula Mayor John Engen has officially returned to work following an absence.

In a letter addressed to the community and press, Mayor Engen said he's sharing his story because he hopes it will help others with addiction also get their lives back on track. 

Engen did not do interviews with the press, instead sending out a heartfelt letter explaining his absence and what his future holds for him.

Mayor Engen had left office in late October for what was described as a medical issue. Engen released a letter on Monday morning stating that he left office to enroll in a "28-day, inpatient treatment program for alcoholism."

"I'm telling you this because you deserve to know that your mayor is an alcoholic in recovery. And I'm telling you because my story might help someone else get her or his life back," Mayor Engen added in his letter.

The letter continues, "Not everyone believes addiction is a disease. Given what I know now, I do. And I don't expect everyone to forgive me or understand me in the wake of telling my story."

:But the story is mine, it's true, and it won't change. What can change is that I can do everything I can every day to stay sober, to be my best self.
I want to be your mayor for another term," the letter continued.

He went on to say that the people he serves have a right to know that he is a recovering alcoholic saying: 

"I've learned much over the last month about myself, about addiction, about life. I left treatment a more compassionate man, an incredibly grateful man, a humble man. I've learned that I can't drink safely."

Engen has served as Missoula's mayor for the last 11 years, and announced that he will seek re-election in 2017 stating:

"Only a serious, sober me can do that. And you deserve the serious, sober me you've elected in the past. And I don't expect everyone to forgive me or understand me in the wake of telling my story. But the story is mine, it's true, and it won't change. What can change is that I can do everything I can every day to stay sober, to be my best self." 

Mayor Engen also encourages those with addictions to seek help, saying quote: "If you have an addiction problem, there is hope. Please seek help. And know that you will find support."

Missoula City Council President Marilyn Marler filled in as acting mayor while Engen was out of the office.

- information from Don Fisher included in this report.

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