TOLEDO, Ohio – A man who became addicted to drugs early in his life shared his story of hitting rock bottom and finding hope out of desperation. He hopes his story can be a lesson for everyone else.
Todd Crandell was addicted to heroin, cocaine, alcohol and every prescription pill he could find. He said he thought he would become another tragic statistic until he found a way out.
"I'm here today to spread a message of hope," Crandell said. "I want to show people that with sobriety, anything is possible."
Crandell is now the image of good health and positivity. He's come a long way since his days of addiction.
"My story really begins when I was 3 1/2 years old," Crandell said. "My real mother committed suicide from her drug addiction, and my uncle also killed himself from his addiction, and I just found out that my aunt recently committed suicide."
Crandell said he started drinking when he was 13 years old, and things quickly spiraled out of control. He started popping any prescription pills he could get his hands on.
"I lost my friends, my family," Crandell said. "I was homeless, suicidal, and by the grace of God, I got a third DUI and the light switch came on, and I said that I want something better out of life.
"I had to go to jail. I lost my license. I didn't have any money. I didn't have any education. I didn't have any faith in God. I had nothing. But I had the desire to get better."
His desire to get better gave Crandell the idea to start running.
"When I first got sober, all I knew was physical activity," Crandell said. "So I started exercising immediately to get my mind back in shape, and then my body started to follow."
In 1999, he discovered The Ironman, and his life charged.
"It was also showing me exercise really increases your mood," Crandell said. "It reduces cravings for drugs, and it's fun. I liked it. It became not a new addiction, but a new focus."
With that new focus and passion, Crandell, who lives in Toldeo, Ohio, has finished more than 28 Ironmans around the world. He's also done several triathlons to his long list of accomplishments.
"It's a lot of work, but it can be done," Crandell said. "I want people to know they do not have to use drugs anymore."
Slowly, Crandell started to put pieces of his life back together. A lot has changed for the man who not long ago was homeless and alone.
"I'm grateful to have a loving wife and four amazing kids," Crandell said. "I have a master's degree in counseling. Life is good."
Now Crandell is spreading his message of hope through his nonprofit, Racing For Recovery.
"Lives do get better," Crandell said. "Families heal. People go on and live prosperous lives. I'm not saying you have to do the Ironman they way I have done, but I'm saying with sobriety, literally, you can do anything."
Crandell spends his time helping others who are going through recovery. You can learn more about Racing For Recovery by clicking here.