Quitting Is Easy, If You Want It – Racing For Recovery’s Todd Crandell On Addiction

Todd Crandell

Written in partnership with Monopolize.

Watching Todd Crandell LICDC-CS LPCC-S complete his 100th IRONMAN event after overcoming years of addiction is certainly inspiring. But for those going through addiction right now, the transformation into recovery – which Crandell considers as a conscious choice – seems unattainable. As Crandell is the licensed clinician behind Racing For Recovery (2001), we saw fit to learn his underlying beliefs about addiction, why it’s happening, and how everyone can choose a balanced and holistic life for themselves.

You have to quit. How many of us who experience addiction hear this all the time, either from others or in our own self talk? It’s a well-meaning piece of advice, but does it hold any power to create sustainable recovery? If it did, we’d have fixed the problem by now.

We hear that it’s a battle – a fight between our willpower and our desires. Having to do something suggests we must work against what we want. Like existing as both swimmer and tide – you’ll drown trying to paddle against your own inclinations.

Somewhere we got it twisted. It’s not about having to quit – it’s about wanting recovery.

Todd Crandell was a man who had to quit but wanted to die.

People were quick to tell him what he had to cut out his addictions. Fewer were willing to help him explore what a life of recovery looked like – so he could find an alternative that he actually wanted to pursue. Even less thought to ask him why he wanted to drink until he was dead. Wouldn’t that have been a better place to start?

A wake-up call aligned with the introduction of a support system willing to explore the underlying reasons behind the choices Crandell was making – opening up the doorway to recovery.

At that point, Todd Crandell didn’t have to quit, because he wanted to live. Once that happened, stepping out of addiction became a choice.

On October 8, the man now known as “The Original Sober TriathleteSM” completed his 100th IRONMAN event at the age of 55. That’s just a scratch on the surface of what Crandell learned to want out of his life. Since leaving addiction in the dust, he’s started Racing For Recovery, an organization that serves as a multi-faceted empowerment group that helps people who’ve known addiction choose a balanced and holistic life.

Recovered-addict-turned-super-athlete helps others overcome their own addictions. It’s a pretty picture – but how did it happen? How has he helped so many others choose life over substance abuse? Curious, we reached out to Crandell – a licensed and educated clinician – for his insights on choosing to leave behind addiction.

“I see hundreds of people that come into our program,” Crandell explains, “and often it’s the same story. You have somebody that has been physically abused, emotionally abused, – God forbid – sexually abused, or they’ve come from a divorced family. Something happened that internalized a belief that they’re not good enough.”

In Crandell’s experience, these traumatic experiences prolong a low self-esteem that leads people to turn to sedating vices. I don’t fit in. I don’t belong. I suck. These are just a few of the examples of self-talk that could make a life of addiction an attractive choice, Crandell tells us.

“Immediately,” he tells us, “We start trying to figure out how to feel better.” That desperation to feel better in the moment is what gives a life of addiction leads us to choose the outlets that are wrong for us. When we undergo trauma – the path of least resistance often lies in sedation, distraction, and avoidance. This drives the link Crandell points out between unresolved negative experiences and addiction.

Todd Crandell

“If you’re fighting to not use drugs,” he says, “there’s a problem that needs to get addressed. Usually, it’s these underlining things that are leading people to choose drugs.”

Think about the times that you or a loved one has tried to kick an addiction. Did it feel like a relentless knife-fight – with the enemy returning for more every time you thought the coast was finally clear? If so, your problem is not with the substance or negative habit – it’s with the root pain that leads you to choose that form of relief.

“I could care less what drugs somebody did,” Crandell says. “I want to know why they’re doing drugs, how we can help them understand that, and then how do we help them want to build a life that they are happy not doing drugs.”

To get that life of recovery, you have to want it. To want it, you have to know you’re worthy of it. Getting there is a process of building your self-esteem back up after it’s been damaged.

“Learn to understand the impact of that trauma and heal from within,” Crandell advises. “Your situation on the outside – either addiction or recovery – will reflect the inner work you’ve done on yourself.”

It’s the quitting that’s easy, but the wanting recovery that’s hard – if you don’t have the professional support to help you move through your past traumas and come back on the other side with your value for life restored.

Todd Crandell and Racing For Recovery stand to be that support system for you or a loved one.

“We’re not telling people what to do,” Crandell says. “We’re helping them do what they want to do – which is to live a life of holistic balance.”

Want to quit? Racing For Recovery invites you to reach out and explore what you want out of life. Call (419) 824-8462 or visit www.ToddCrandell.com / www.RacingforRecovery.org. Remember – you can choose to heal!

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