After weeks of vague explanations for Mayor John Engen's disappearance from Missoula City Hall, Engen is back in the office and is admitting his absence was due to treatment for alcoholism.

The public wasn't the only party left out of the loop on why the mayor was not at work, according to city councilman Harlan Wells, even the city council was not informed about the the cause of the absence as Marilyn Marler took over as interim mayor.

Below is the full letter sent out by Engen this morning, November 28, accompanied by a note saying that "he will not do interviews with reporters."

Dear Fellow Missoulians,

On the evening of October 24, I checked into a 28-day, inpatient treatment program for alcoholism.

Today, Monday, November 28, I returned to work in the Mayor's Office in Missoula, Montana, the city I love, to continue the work I've loved for the last 11 years.

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.

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.

I want what my parents wanted for me, what my friends want for me, what we all ought to have: health, happiness and a meaningful existence taking care of others. Because my friends, who are really my extended family, loved me enough to intervene in my addiction, I get another chance at that good life. I am confident I can live a healthy, productive, sober life, as millions of other alcoholics do on a daily basis.

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 and will run for re-election in 2017. Only a serious, sober me can do that. And you deserve the serious, sober me you've elected in the past.

If you have an addiction problem, there is hope. Please seek help. And know that you will find support.


John Engen Mayor