How we do we recover from drug and alcohol addiction? Recovery often begins with one person who has experienced addiction talking to another. Todd Crandell, founder of Racing For Recovery, believes in exposing people to anything that can help them recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Crandell sees exercise as one component in a holistic approach that incorporates the spiritual, physical, psychological, and educational aspects of creating a new life.
Laura speaks with emotion when she talks about her daughter Melissa’s recovery from heroin addiction and homelessness. “If you could have seen my daughter. She weighed 87 pounds, her hair was matted and her teeth were a mess. It has been a total transformation and I attribute Racing For Recovery for saving my daughter. It’s a miracle.”
“I believe in exposing people to anything that can help them,” says Todd Crandell, founder of Racing For Recovery, a program based in Ohio. Crandell sees exercise as one component in a holistic approach that incorporates the spiritual, physical, psychological, and educational aspects of recovery. He participated in his first triathlon when he was two years sober. He has made it his life’s work to help other people into recovery. Racing For Recovery runs support meetings every day of the week and workout meetings on Fridays. While not everyone participates in racing, there are opportunities for people in the program to volunteer at races.
“I put the same effort into repairing myself as I did into destroying myself.” Crandell was homeless for thirteen years, smoking crack, doing heroin, and drinking two-fifths of whiskey a day before he had a spiritual experience that led him to recovery. Today he is an inspiration to others who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Crandell is a licensed drug and alcohol dependency counselor and runs support groups for families and individuals who are struggling with substance use issues.
Melissa Hall first heard about Racing For Recovery while staying at The Sparrow’s Nest, a women’s shelter in downtown Toledo, Ohio. While she was interested in the program’s message and attended a few meetings, it would be three months before Melissa would find her way back to a Racing For Recovery meeting.
In 2006, Laura learned that her daughter had been stealing from her to support a heroin addiction and asked her to leave their home. After months of daily visits to a Methadone clinic, a detox center, and hard conversations, Laura took her daughter to the Sparrow’s Nest. “Every morning I would pick her up from the Sparrows Nest to spend the day with us and every night I would take her back,” said Laura. Later, Laura would learn from the staff at the Sparrow’s Nest that Melissa had been leaving after she was dropped off and had not been living at the shelter for two weeks. It was at this point that Laura told her daughter not to call her until she was serious about getting clean. Three months passed.
“For three months, I did not hear from Melissa. I didn’t know if she was dead or alive. People I know would see her on the East side of Toledo every now and then, but I honestly thought she was going to die,” says Laura.
During this time Melissa was living on the street. “I was living with random people, whoever would take me in. I wasn’t eating and I didn’t have proper hygiene. I was so lonely and I hadn’t come across anyone who loved me,” says Melissa. In a moment of clarity, Melissa called her mother on Thanksgiving Day 2007 and asked her to come pick her up. Just as her mother was arriving to pick her up, Melissa was arrested by the police and taken to jail.
“When I got out of jail, my mom took me to a Racing For Recovery meeting and I just knew that this time I was done. I was so tired of everything, so I enrolled myself in an outpatient rehabilitation program and started attending Racing For Recovery meetings. My mom let me come home and this program literally saved my life. I had no idea that I could be this happy.” In June of 2009, Melissa achieved 19 months of sobriety.
Melissa talks about the value of seeing family members come to meetings and find hope in other people’s stories. “It just gives you hope, each week that you see people come back.” Melissa has run in three 5k races, supports other members of Racing For Recovery at various triathlons, and now chairs recovery meetings during the week. “This program has given me the support of other sober people and true friends,” says Melissa.
Click here to visit the website of Racing For Recovery.
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