Fred Schneider picked up a pair of running shoes after completing an addiction recovery program three years ago.
At that time, his primary goal was to begin adopting healthy habits that would keep him on the road of recovery.
Now his intentions have expanded to include demonstrating for others that sobriety is possible.
“Running is a tool that helps me stay sober. It has given me a lot of confidence and helped build my self-worth,” said Schneider, 33, of Akron. “If by being out there running a race or a marathon helps other people see that they can overcome their struggle with addictions, I’m more than happy to do it.”
Today, Schneider will join more than 300 runners at the 5K ADM Recovery Challenge on the grounds of the Interval Brotherhood Home Addiction Recovery Center in Coventry Township — the place where he underwent treatment on his road to recovery. (ADM stands for Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board of Summit County.)
Schneider finished first in last year’s inaugural race.
For Jerry Craig, executive director of the ADM board, Schneider’s presence is an inspiration to everyone involved — his staff and others who work in addictions recovery, the volunteers, people in recovery and those in the throes of addiction.
“His win last year was a goose-bump moment. It still gives me goose bumps to know that he has been through our detox program, received services at Oriana House and treatment at IBH and is now a living example that recovery is possible,” Craig said. “This race is about people being able to triumph over challenges, and he exemplifies that by coming back healthy to the place where he struggled to overcome addiction and left to start a new life.”
Schneider, a Cuyahoga Falls native, said he began the recreational use of alcohol and marijuana in high school. Over the course of a decade, he graduated to LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamines, prescription painkillers and heroin.
“There never has been a drug I didn’t like to take. I had no consequences early on, but I ended up getting arrested for cooking up meth with my roommate 13 years ago,” Schneider said. “I got probation and went into a treatment program. I stayed sober long enough to get off probation. As soon as I was out of trouble, I jumped back in.”
Schneider said he continued using meth, until he started experiencing some psychological side effects. He then moved to using prescription medications and recognized he was an addict. His revelation, however, did not stop his drug use.
“I made a decision to move to heroin because it was a lot cheaper and you could find it everywhere,” Schneider said. “That’s when things really got out of control. I was transporting a gun for my drug dealer and got pulled over. I got my second felony.
“But I got lucky again: I got a probation officer who became the first person [to whom I] broke down and admitted to that I had a problem and didn’t know how to stop. I told her I needed help.”
That probation officer arranged for an assessment with the ADM board that put Schneider on the road to recovery.
“I have remained sober since detox in 2011,” Schneider said. “ADM, Oriana House and IBH saved my life. I can’t begin to describe the feeling I had when I returned to IBH last year and came in first in that race. I imagine it’s going to feel even better this year because it marks another year of healthy living for me.”