This triathlete is going the distance to destigmatise addiction

Going for a Sunday morning run is nothing short of remarkable for Costa Carastavrakis. For years, he spent most weekends in the throes of depression after nights out fuelled by drugs and alcohol. His days were permeated with shame. But today, Carastavrakis has been sober for over a decade. He’s now on track to fighting the stigma around addiction, proving it’s possible to turn your life around.
Carastavrakis grew up in a rambunctious and happy household, but his schooling was punctuated by pain. Bullied for being too small, Greek, and gay, life became excruciating. He started drinking at the age of 12, finding temporary relief in oblivion. Numbing his reality into adulthood, he eventually spiralled into a heavy drug addiction.After 24 years of using alcohol and narcotics, Carastavrakis decided to get clean. Realising he was worthy of wellness, he dove into exercise. Carastavrakis has since run several marathons and competed in triathlons, things he never would’ve dreamt possible before becoming sober. With each step he takes, Carastavrakis moves further away from his past towards the truth of who he is: a person deserving of love, belonging, and health. “I want people to know that these kinds of miracles are possible,” he says.To inspire and encourage others, Carastavrakis penned the book, 'I Am Costa: From Meth to Marathons'. With it, he's challenging misconceptions about addiction. Stigma prevents many people from opening up about their struggles and seeking help. “Addiction is a mental health problem, and we should all be talking about it,” Carastavrakis says. “I want to rid myself and others from the shame.” Through his honesty, he’s shining a light on addiction and transforming the narrative. Our prior experiences don’t have to define the rest of our lives. “I’m not my history,” Carastavrakis says. “But I’m certainly planning my future.”