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Brighter Future Scholarship: Winning Essays

The Brighter Future Scholarship aims to help students pursue their dreams and passions. A brighter future starts with today’s youth and Mountainside Treatment Center wants to enable young people to overcome their struggles. To qualify, applicants share essays about their addiction or their loved one’s addiction and how it has affected their life, raising awareness and highlighting the reality of this disease. Explore essays from past winners below.

A daughter upset at her alcoholic father

Finding Myself

“I tried my best to pretend that everything was ordinary, but I could not deny the drastic shift I felt in my family… Day by day, my idea of a family drifted.”

Empty beer bottles on a table

Why Me?

“My mother on the other hand was an alcoholic. I’m not sure when this started but I have vivid memories of me holding her hair back as she threw up in the bathroom.”

Papers and lists on a table with a vase and flowers | Mountainside Addiction Treatment Center

Breaking Bad Habits

“Dealing with mental health at a young age is the most damaging thing I’ve experienced. I would know because I have a list. Yeah, I know. Why would I…”


Uncle Monster

“Addiction is not a solitary disease. It is like a stone thrown in a pond, causing a ripple effect that disturbs any and all surrounding calm.”

medical equipment

Future Doctor

“My parents grew up completely isolated from drugs and alcohol until they went to high school. My dad hit ninth grade and started dealing.”

library shelves

Motivation for a Higher Education

“This experience has made me realize that those who can overcome addiction or substance abuse should not be looked down upon!”

Man tossing daughter playfully at beach

You Live With Dad Now

“While being a universal experience, the taboo nature of mental illness and discussions of mental health can make a very common situation seem abnormal.”

Last Breath by Dillon

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

“Because of my father’s addiction, I learned to hate the sin, but not the sinner. I don’t let my past mark me who I am today.”

30 Minutes BFS

30 Minutes

““You have thirty minutes to pack your bags and leave,” they commanded sternly. 30 minutes that changed my life forever. Though I was confused and jarred, I frantically…”

Person on iphone sitting at table in black and white

The Last Call

Because of the pandemic,  I couldn’t see him in person. It might sound sickening, but I preferred it this way. A simple “end call” and I no longer had to think about the whole situation.”

hand handcuffed to shot glass

The Wrong Choice

“Due to my grandfathers addictions, I never got to talk to them, and I never got to hug either of them, because they had made their decision, and they didn’t choose family, they chose alcohol.”

Paperclip chain broken

Our Broken Bond

Having a sibling that has an addiction to one of the strongest drugs out there is literally one of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life, it’s grieving the loss of a living family member.”

Female Doctor and Nurse check vitals on unconscious male patient in blue hospital room with medical equipment

The Damage of Addiction

“What happened to my father from the time that he was a healthy young athletic to the patient who is frequently in hospitals was a two-year history of drug addiction.”

Wednesday written on different papers


“Wednesday haunted me like the ghosts and monsters I feared at night in my childhood bedroom. Each week, it just lurked in the middle waiting to get me.”

small plant sprout growing in sand

Growing Up Around Addiction

Without addiction my parents could have potentially still been together, and I wouldn’t have had to grow up with a separated family.”

Black and white photo of man with back to camera standing in front of window

Darkness of My Mind

My mind would grow dark and wander off to these dark thoughts, negatively impacting my mental stability. I was alone again, just as I was when I was a little girl afraid of the dark.

silhouette of woman in shadow

My Mother’s Addiction

The thing about addiction that people may not realize, is it can be a camouflaged agent of poison: unnoticeable and kills slowly.

woman with curly hair in white t-shirt holding her hand sideways covering her mouth

Family Secret

That was the day when I learned alcoholism ate away at people until there was only a shell left, and that our little “secret” wasn’t so little after all.”

red haired girl and woman holding hands with head held

My Mother’s Keeper

My mother is a kind and loving person, but this didn’t stop alcohol from consuming her life. It was only when I became older that I realized…”

Glass of wine in front while woman behind reaches for it

My Big Sister

“I had feelings of anger when I thought about her potential and how I wish I had the options she had… Mostly, I was and still am sad. I miss having a big sister.”

Putting smiling face on. Black man holding paper with smiley face printed on, happiness and joy concept

Behind The Façade

Growing up, my uncle was always the life of the party. He had a big personality, a contagious laugh, and a heart of gold. But as I got older, I started to realize that there was something else going on with him.”

Man on Mountain in Shadow

Growing From Experience

The greatest thing a person can do for themselves is to help someone else, and this is a calling that I feel is an expression the love I experienced by being saved.

self blocks

Putting Myself First

In some ways, I’ve learned that I need to put myself first and make sure that I am okay before I try to help others, but I also realized that helping people is something ingrained in me and who I am.”

happy family hugging in nature

My Stepbrother

“It was like he disappeared into thin air. I missed him so much. His big goofy smile. The jokes he told that would have me out of breath. The pointers he would give me at my basketball games. I was devastated, it still hurts whenever I think about how he used to be.”

A daughter upset at her alcoholic father

My Father’s Daughter

“I get past all of my father’s struggles, mistakes, and addiction because I know he can get past them too. He’s inspired me to accept that we all have darker corners filled with fear and struggle.”

Depressed middle age Asian man standing in the room with drinking beer and think about life problem. Stressed unemployed guy feel upset and tired at home. Mental health and alcohol addiction and economic problem concept.

My Dad’s Alcoholism

“I have always been so terrified of my father because of the way alcohol makes him act, and I cannot remember the last time my dad has made it through the day without being drunk by the end of it.”

father holding shoulder of son while looking down outside by trees

Papá, the Glass Cleaner

“I watched as he ignored me throughout the years, as I grew up with a father, but not a dad. It always frustrated me to the brink of tears.”


Accepting My Mother’s Addiction

“As the years passed, clarity emerged from the fog of uncertainty. I came to understand addiction not as a moral failing, but as a relentless disease, trapping those affected in a cycle of dependency and hopelessness.”

A young black girl covers her face as she does schoolwork at the table

How Addiction Stole My Mother From Me

“I still see my mother, although not often. But I despise addiction. It took my mother from me.”

man seated on couch pouring liquor from bottle into glass

Losing my Father

“Being in an abusive household and being abused mentally, physically, and verbally at a young age by someone who you thought cared about you is a really hard thing to process as a child.”

woman lighting up blunt close up

My Brush with Addiction

“I couldn’t go a day without using. Marijuana lit the world up, and it made things bearable.”

woman hugging daughter

Blood Doesn’t Matter

“It was at these clinics that I learned I am no better than the people around me struggling with addiction. There is a story behind every addiction and mistakes don’t make you a bad person, they make you human.”

two grandparents raising grandchild sitting on bench outside blowing bubbles

My Parents’ Addiction

“The most important thing I have come to realize about addiction is that it happens in all kinds of families and to all kinds of people. What matters most is how you deal with it. My dad did not believe that he could live without something to kill his pain. Because of that, he didn’t seek help and ultimately died.”

Family walking in the park at sunset

Seeds Sown in Soot

“Losing them was a cruel illustration of the disgusting consequences of addiction. It was a painful demonstration that addiction isn’t a choice but a merciless disease that has the power to control someone to the point of no return.”

Close up of a man's hand holding a bag of white powder

Heroin as a Third Parent

“I am confident that I will lead a different life than my parents. My only wish is to make them proud. I am determined to graduate high school because my father couldn’t. My mother and father both did not graduate college, so I will. I plan to use my education to help others.”

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