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Heroes of the Opioid Crisis: “Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends” With Todd Crandell

To any person who would like to follow my path, I encourage you to surround yourself with a support system of family and friends, be true to yourself, and to never give up hope. It’s essential to develop a system for effective coping skills to handle emotional hardships along the way. Pursue your goals and […]


To any person who would like to follow my path, I encourage you to surround yourself with a support system of family and friends, be true to yourself, and to never give up hope. It’s essential to develop a system for effective coping skills to handle emotional hardships along the way. Pursue your goals and try to have a strong faith in God — or a greater power of your choosing. Live a productive lifestyle that includes exercise and a plant-based diet — I truly believe this has helped with maintaining my own sobriety. Mostly, focus on never giving up on your dreams.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Crandell, a former drug addict and alcoholic who turned his life around to become an IRONMAN, All World Athlete (AWA). He is the founder of the organization Racing for Recovery, which helps people all over the world overcome addiction through a healthy and holistic approach. It’s a new path to sobriety and an alternative to the traditional 12-step programs.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Thank you for having me.My backstory is, as a child I was surrounded by drug addiction and self-destructive behavior. My mother was addicted to drugs and committed suicide when I was 3 years old. In addition to my mother, several other close family members were addicted to drugs and alcohol and committed suicide. I am also the survivor of a 13-year drug addiction that consisted of cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, alcohol, prescription pills, and anything I could get my hands on. I was homeless, suicidal, and in and out of jail. Thankfully, after my third arrest, I committed to turning my life around to become an IRONMAN. I have since raced 29 IRONMAN in 15 countries and six continents.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your Triathlete career?

I think one of the saddest, yet funniest, stories occurred during my addiction days when I was passed out due to alcohol and drugs at a local semi-pro hockey game in the arena where I once played in, myself. I saw one of my friends and apparently I said to him “come with me, I’m driving”. As sad as that was, fast forward about seven or eight years later when I was sober and I was actually playing for that same semi-pro hockey team. To me, that shows the power of addiction and it shows what can be accomplished with sobriety.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most exciting or interesting project I am working on now is improving myself and my federally approved nonprofit organization Racing for Recovery. We have been the first of its kind to implement a support group meeting format that offers help for everyone who’s been affected by addiction, including family members. It was started in 2001 and we are the first program to take our unique and cutting-edge support group meeting format and offer it via live stream every Thursday night. Now, the whole world can witness what this program does, for free, to those affected by addiction and help them. I am about to release my third book, and a screenplay has been written about my life story, as well.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have had the privilege of meeting some of my “heroes” in the music industry. I have met the bands Poison, Mötley Crüe, and Tesla. In fact, the first time I listened to Tesla, I was drunk and under the influence of drugs. Since sobriety, I have not only had the privilege of meeting them, but Tesla’s music is actually used in the documentary film Running with Demons — which is about my life and organization, Racing for Recovery.

I’ve also worked with members of both the U.S. Senate and Congress to push for solutions in the opioid crisis ravaging our nation. U.S. Senator Rob Portman has visited Racing for Recovery and talked, at length on the senate floor, about what we are doing to successfully eradicate this problem. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur asked Racing for Recovery to take part in a panel to help find solutions in Ohio, which has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. At the end of the day, everybody that I have met has been wonderful and encouraging. I am honored to have had the opportunity to develop these kinds of relationships since my sobriety.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

To any person who would like to follow my path, I encourage you to surround yourself with a support system of family and friends, be true to yourself, and to never give up hope. It’s essential to develop a system for effective coping skills to handle emotional hardships along the way. Pursue your goals and try to have a strong faith in God — or a greater power of your choosing. Live a productive lifestyle that includes exercise and a plant-based diet — I truly believe this has helped with maintaining my own sobriety. Mostly, focus on never giving up on your dreams.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I love this question. I have simply taken what is been graciously given to me and offered it back to the rest of the world by forming Racing for Recovery in 2001. I am proud that this program has served hundreds of thousands of people globally over the past 17 years. Through books, a documentary movie, speaking engagements, and living a healthy and holistic life, I have worked hard to spread the message that sobriety is absolutely possible for everyone. And, you don’t have to take up running to achieve it. My contribution to giving back to the world is to simply take what has been given to me and what I have been fortunate enough to experience in my 25 years of sobriety and give it back to help others. To me, that’s living life’s purpose.

 Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?

In addition to my family and friends, my grandmother has been the most significant influence in my life. She is the one person that never gave up on me during my addiction and her famous phrase to me was, “you are going to beat this thing”. She died in 2012 and I have utilized everything she has given to me to help make Racing for Recovery succeed. I am doing my best to improve this program to reach and help more people. Another person who had a profound effect on my life was my former hockey coach and mentor Jim Cooper. He has been instrumental in helping Racing for Recovery improve its business format and he has been another person who has provided endless support. His quote to me is, “good job keep going”. I apply that line daily

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“WITH SOBRIETY ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”. It resonates with me because it is the Racing for Recovery slogan. I live by it and enjoy watching others live by it as well.

Can you Share “5 Work Ethic Lessons That We Can Learn From Athletes”?

· Take care of your body and mind.

· Utilize a plant based diet.

· Rest.

· Never lose sight of your dream.

· Use the power of visualization to not only visualize the goal being achieved but implement action along the way.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Barack Obama is the person I want to meet. I admire his service to others, his commitment to family, and his ability to listen to others with empathy and compassion. As President, he overcame many obstacles to offer healthcare to all. He’s also a great family man.

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