Chat with Todd Crandell
Crandell battled drug and alcohol addiction for 13 years before finally becoming sober on April 15, 1993. He is the founder and executive director of Racing for Recovery, through which he competes in the Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile marathon run).
By working through Racing for Recovery, Crandell hopes to prevent substance abuse in adolescents and individuals, offering a positive alternative to those currently battling addiction. He has lived in Sylvania, Ohio his entire life and just earned his Master of Counseling degree in July.
Send in your questions to Crandell now and join him right here for all the answers on Monday at 2 p.m. ET.
Buzzmaster (2:01 PM)
We're getting Todd right now! Send in your questions!
Buzzmaster (2:02 PM)
We've got Todd!
why the Ironman? Why pick that sport to use as your outlet? Why not bowling or hunting or hiking?
Todd Crandell (2:04 PM)
The Ironman is the ultimate test in sport and then some. I was drawn to that because people are in awe of it. I wanted to do something extraordinary and you can't get more extraordinary than that.
Todd, what are your thoughts on the MLB player Josh Hamilton that battled addiction for years and now is finally playing in the big leagues?
Todd Crandell (2:05 PM)
I commend him on his recovery. I know about him. I know more and more about him. I like that he's using sprituality in his recovery. I like to see an athlete of his caliber in his recovery. It's awesome. I'd love to talk to him.
Why do you recognize April 15, 1993 as the day you became sober?
Todd Crandell (2:06 PM)
That's the last day I had a drink or drug of any kind. My daughter was born five years to the day that I stopped drinking. That's the day that started everything to me. My family, my education, my health. Everything started for me that day. And yes, it's tatooed on my leg.
Todd, have you addressed the demons in your past that drove you to become an addict? Was there any moment during your travel to sobriety that you had a moment where you knew your past was behind you?
Todd Crandell (2:08 PM)
That's an AWESOME question. I've had to deal with everything. The last thing that I had to overcome was the issues with my mom. I've resolved pretty much everything with her passing. I've had to deal with a paternity suit, the loss of my liscense. The stigma of everything that comes along with addiction. Going to jail. Everything that I've done during my addiction I've tried to repair. It's hard, but I'm doing it.
Why do you think that you had the revelation that you were going to chang your live on that day
Todd Crandell (2:09 PM)
Looking back on it, from the present day, I can say I was given a gift from God. I was given the clarity to put my life back together. I didn't put the pieces together until about 10 years into my recovery. I've made it through the help of many, many people. I would not be here without the help of my family and friends.
Andrew Hopper Fenton, MI
Todd, how does someone become involved with your organization?
Todd Crandell (2:10 PM)
First of all, visit RacingforRecovery.com. I am trying desperately to take our program and implement it everywhere. Our races, support group meetings, speaking engagements. Help us help everyone else across this country.
Todd Crandell (2:11 PM)
Racing for Recovery: From addict to Ironman is our book. It's available at bookstores and online.
Besides the running and competing, what else do you do with the organization?
Todd Crandell (2:12 PM)
We have unique and cutting edge support group meetings that combine the addict with family and friends. This is not AA, we follow our lifestyles of recovery. This is a new approach that combines the addict and friends in one environment. I do speaking engagements. Also, we have a mentoring program for kids as well.
What are the lingering effects of your previous time using?
Todd Crandell (2:13 PM)
Good question. I had severe liver damage for a number of years. That's the only organ that repairs itself and thank God mine has. I haven't had any mental problems. The anguish I caused my family and friends as well as the financial problems that's what I had.
How can an active addict get involved in Racing for Recovery to begin their own sobriety? How can I help a friend?
Todd Crandell (2:14 PM)
If he's actively using, I reccomend checking himself into a treatment center right away. Being there for him for support. The main thing is if they're currently battling a drug problem, I say they get checked into a center and then come to us for help in battling the addiction.
Todd, do you ever get a pull back down the direction you went in the past? How do you deal with that?
Todd Crandell (2:15 PM)
Yes I do at times. That's part of the deal of being a person like myself. I'll have to deal with it the rest of my life. Those situations are further apart than what they used to be. What I utilize to keep that sobriety is my family and friends. Having those situations arise reminds me how fragile my recovery is and it makes me thankful for everything I have today.
Mark St Paul Minnesota
Todd, I watched the special about you on sportscenter. What a great inspirational story of hope no matter where you are. Do you remember the day you decided this was it and you needed to just get it together, was there something that triggered in your mind or anything specific that made you change your ways? Why Triathlon??? Best in your endeavor and message, like I said, an inspirational story.
Todd Crandell (2:17 PM)
Getting my third drunk driving charge on April 14, 1993 and then drinking into the next day was the catalyst that I needed. Since then I've been on a constant quest to help others and that's what I do with Racing for Recovery.
I saw the spot on Sportscenter this mornign and was moved. How many addicts that are part of the Racing for Recovery have gone to raec in an Ironman and how did you train for it the first time?
Todd Crandell (2:18 PM)
The first time I started training for it, I jumped in with both feet and started right in. I don't reccomend that. Get a trainer. There are some former addicts that have gone on to do some Ironmans. That's truly humbling.
What are your thoughts on using Sports to show the road to recovery. I feel there is an existing paradox in the sporting world. Addiction is publicly frowned upon, but continuously proven to exist. Addiction (steroids, cocaine, alcohol, gambling) are prevalent in all sports, yet you use the IronMan to tell your story. Do you think the sports community is listening?
Todd Crandell (2:20 PM)
I believe in a wholistic approach to recovery. Using exercise is a key component. I don't say it's essential, but it's a huge part of sustaining recovery.
How long did you train for your first IM and what type of event was your first Tri?
Todd Crandell (2:20 PM)
I spend about 15-20 hours a week when I'm really involved in my training. I did that in preparation for my first Ironman in 1999.
Brendan, NY, NY
I'd like to hear some more about overcoming depression. Presumably, alcohol and drugs were something you turned to as a result of your depression. Therefore, getting rid of those outlets didn't cure the problem. How did you overcome your depression?
Todd Crandell (2:22 PM)
I've never been clinically diagnosed with depression. I believe my mom's suicide was a trigger. But once you stop using drugs and alcohol, that depression goes away. My depression was caused by being drunk and stoned all the time.
Andrew Fenton, MI
How does one become involved volunteering with Racing for Recovery? What a classy thing to do.
Todd Crandell (2:23 PM)
Absolutely. The biggest thing is if you can get me to do speaking engagements in your hometown so we can spread our program, that would be greatly appreciated. Contact the media. We need financial support so we can continue to help others.
Steve Winkler, Galesburg, IL
Very inspirational!!!! Great tats!! How old were you when you started using drugs? What drugs were you addicted too? Ever get close to going to prison?
Todd Crandell (2:24 PM)
I started using when I was 13. I did it all - cocaine, crack, heroine, pot, valium, acid. I did it and I'm not proud of it. It's just what happens when you get involved in this.
Paul (New Canaan)
What would be your best advice for someone who is strugging with addiction - but CAN'T pinpoint something in their life that drove them to the edge?
Todd Crandell (2:25 PM)
If they're struggling with addiction, get help. Rehab, Racing for Recovery, your pastor, your family. Absolutely deal with the problem. You know why you're drinking and drugging. You know why you're drinking and drugging and drove you there in the first place.
Todd Crandell (2:26 PM)
Thank you to ESPN, thanks to all the people that are contacting me. Be patient. I'll get back to each and every one of you. If you can, get me to do speaking in your hometown so I can help spread our program. I am so humbled by this. Thank you so much.