racing for recovery

Todd Crandell is widely recognized as a leading expert on substance abuse. He has overcome a thirteen-year addiction to drugs and alcohol and is the founder of Racing for Recovery, an organization dedicated to preventing all forms of substance abuse and providing positive alternatives for those battling addiction.

Todd regularly competes in triathlons to bring awareness to his organization. His support group format is revolutionary in that everyone can attend, including people recovering from addiction, their families and friends, and community.

At Racing for Recovery, we see people as people. Not some label of what they did.

Listen to Todd’s story now!

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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Daily Routine

The first thing Todd does when he takes his first breath in the morning is to be grateful to be alive. He hits the floor and does a set up twenty-five pushups. Then he goes downstairs to feed his vegan pig, Mylo.

Todd credits his pig with enhancing his life and teaching him how to be more humble, compassionate, empathetic, and gracious for everything he has.Todd is also married and the father of four kids. Three of his children still live at home and Todd talks to his family and does the usual domestic duties. Then he goes out for a run and heads into his office to get going for the day for Racing for Recovery.

The First Time

Todd took his first sip of alcohol in the 8th grade, knowing it was wrong and that he was making a huge mistake. He didn’t get drunk, but he knew he stepped onto a path that wasn’t going to be good.

The second time he drank was his freshman year. This time, he took speed with it. He passed out, turned blue and puked on himself. His friends put him in a room and closed the door. He didn’t die, but he urinated on his friends’ coat. He woke up sicker than he ever was in his life. His friends laughed as they told him what he did the night before. Todd was mortified. He said he would never do it again. The next weekend he did it again. And again, and again. This was the beginning of the hell his life would become for the next 13 years.

Todd’ Story

Todd hung out with troubled kids who acted out by doing crazy stunts. The only time he felt of value was when he was playing hockey. He felt inferior in every other area of his life. His talent at the sport could’ve lead to a promising life, but he kept making the choice to drink to the point of blacking out. He’d walk around drunk by himself and wake up in cornfields. His grades began to suffer. In junior year, he added marijuana, Valium, and LSD to his repetoire. By senior year, he did cocaine for the first time.

Nothing mattered after that.

His downfall continued. He once went to jail for beating up his own parents. At one point, he ended up living in Florida as a homeless meth addict. His life was chaos, lies, an emotionally tormenting people. He felt ashamed, disgusted, and suicidal, but he couldn’t stop.

When I woke up every morning, I was mad that I woke up.

His rock bottom was when he got arrested for the third time. He was driving while intoxicated and could’ve killed anybody. He was actually relieved that it was over.

Todd straightened his life out. He got married, had kids, and got a great job … as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company that sold drugs for external genital warts. Despite the not-so-glamourous job description, Todd had made it in society’s eyes. The funny things was, he was still miserable.

I hadn’t found me.

He was scrambling for the job, the family, and the security wondering if he was good enough for sobriety. His life started to change when he was fired. His house and cars were taken away. His marriage suffered, but it gave him the opportunity to find out who he was and what he needed, which was to find out why he hated himself.

Todd still struggled with self-esteem and self-worth. He got into Ironman competition and soon realized he could do something with his experience. He started Racing for Recovery to prevent kids from falling into the same trap of addiction. Todd has since earned a masters degree in counseling and developed Racing for Recovery as a federally approved non-profit. His organization has been doing a 5K run for 17 years. He also wrote his book, Racing for Recovery: From Addict to Ironman.

What kept Todd from getting clean?

It had been Todd’s choice to keep using. He didn’t want sobriety.

You either want to get sober or you don’t. You either do it or you don’t. There is no try.

The aha moment

Todd says he’s not a cliché guy, and he loves the traditional meetings, but he refused to be powerless over anything. He empowered himself to make a constant choice not to use anymore.

Favorite books

  • Racing for Recovery: From Addict to Ironman by Todd Crandell and John Hanc
  • There’s More Than One Way to Get to Cleveland: 10 Lifestyles of Recovery That Lead from Addiction to Freedom * Why Twelve-Step Programs Don’t Work For Everyone* by Todd Crandell and Tim Vandehey
  • The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx
  • Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton
  • Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

Best suggestion

Do your best to start liking yourself.

For the newcomer

Stop self-destructing. In order to get everything that not self-destructing brings.

We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

See you then!


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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous prog