Keeping Sober: Chad Caruso on Addiction
YouTuber Cad Carusso is halfway through his cross-country skate trip; yes, you heard that right, this dude is pushing a board from Venice Beach to Virginia Beach. He'll take about two months to get there.
Dose covered Chad's story a few days ago and we reached out to him via IG to see if he was up for an interview. I'm down, he replied.
We spoke with the 36-year-old Long Island native a day after he crossed Simms, Texas, on day 34 of his skate challenge. Chad tells us about his journey, the people he met, his past struggles with addiction, and the goal behind it all.
Chad, how are you doing? Did you sleep well?
Yeah, I slept well. I usually get about, like, five, six hours a night.
That's not much.
No, it's just enough for me.
Have you always been adventurous?
Yeah, I'd say so.
Where are you now?
I just entered Arkansas.
Were you already on the road this morning?
So right now, I am ten miles into my skate. It's raining.
Are you on the board right now?
Yeah, I'm skating right now.
Okay, that’s crazy. What's been going on the last 24 hours?
It was good. I mean, they look very similar every 24 hours. It's basically me skating about 50 to 60 miles, eating when I can, and then editing the daily YouTube videos right afterwards.
Wow, that's a busy schedule. Sounds tough. What have you learned so far? Does being on your own make you think a lot?
It's hard to pick just one thing, but I've really enjoyed seeing how nice everyone is. People I know, people I don't know, like strangers offering rides. Everyone's willing to help.
And if they offer you a ride, then you take it?
I skate every inch.
Do you consider yourself sporty? If you’re doing something like this, you must be pretty athletic.
Yeah. As a kid, I played basketball. Anything outside I like.
How long do you go back in skateboarding?
Guess I've been skateboarding for about 25 years.
You make the trip to raise money because of your history of addiction. That's right, isn't it?
I'm raising money for a nonprofit called Natural High, and they encourage kids to find something they're passionate about. To focus on.
It's important. They do shitty things if they don't have that.
How about you? What got you into drug addiction?
I'd say injuries led me to that, skate injuries. It's kind of like the skateboarding lifestyle; drinking is part of the lifestyle. You can easily get caught up in that, especially as you get older. Once I got injured, I started hanging out with skaters and drinking and getting into trouble instead of skating.
At which age was that?
My early twenties.
Did you get hurt skating?
Yeah, I tore my ACL and PCL in my left knee.
Did you smoke or drink before the injury?
For a little while, I was getting into smoking, and then I realized I wasn't skating as much. Then I just quit and stopped hanging out with those people and started skating all the time.
What drugs did you do?
I like to try everything. I messed around with mainly alcohol, though.
And what was your childhood like?
It was great. Yeah. I got no complaints. I had two older brothers, so I was always like, you know, playing sports with them and stuff. And my parents were great.
What's been your turning point to sobriety?
Years and years of mistakes, you know, hurting myself, hurting others. Eventually, I just didn't want to hurt anyone else anymore.
You've been, like, hardcore addicted?
No, I wouldn't say hardcore addicted, but I would just do crazy things when I was drunk.
I got two DWIs, so I would drink and drive all the time.
Yeah. That's not the best combination. Did you lose your license?
Yeah, I lost it twice. I was in $10,000 of debt.
I also lost my driving license as a teenager. Yeah, that really sucks. What was your first drug?
I think alcohol was the first. Yeah, alcohol and then probably weed.
That's the typical combination.
How about your parents? Did they have any addictions?
Both my parents are actually sober.
Did your addictions lead to anything good? Maybe that trip?
Oh yeah, everything. You can't in life have good things without bad things. Good things grow out of those mistakes or those bad moments, or tough situations. So I've learned a lot from going through all that.
Do you think you'll survive your skate trip? I mean, your body must be hurting.
No, not at all. No.
I practiced beforehand, so my body wasn't completely, like, in shock, but I never skated 50 miles a day before in a row. Over and over.
You don't have hip pain from pushing?
I've never felt a pain in my hip ever.
I think maybe because I have been skateboarding for so long. Maybe my body's just used to it at this point. I'll push for 50 miles and I'm not even sore at the end of it.
Will you come back without any injuries?
I mean, I won't know till it's over, but as of now, I haven't fallen. I haven't gotten hurt, so I'm doing pretty good.
You will have a six-pack.
Does that kind of trip cost a lot? It's just a board, but you need a place to stay.
It's a lot more expensive than people think. Hotels can get pretty expensive every single night. $150, $100, $70. That adds up, and then I have to eat out for lunch. I got snacks and water every day.
How many boards have you already used, or did it stay the same?
Just one. I haven't touched it—same board for the past 1800 miles.
And the same wheels?
Same wheels, same bearings, same everything.
Before you started, did you have a social media community?
Yeah. I probably had about 55,000 subscribers on YouTube. My Instagram account had like 35,000 followers when I started. I'm almost at 50,000 now.
Is the trip the craziest thing you ever did?
I think so. But I also don't even look at it as crazy. It doesn't even feel crazy to me. I just look at each day. I'm just going. When I was practicing for this, I used to skate 50 miles back home. It's just another 50-mile skate day. I'm not too worried about anything. I take it one day at a time.
What's it like being on the road?
I love it. Yeah.
And do you enjoy the clean version of yourself?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wouldn't want it any other way. I have no desire to go back to anything.
A lot of people who are still drinking or doing other things are afraid of being just pure, natural.
The whole point is you're usually drinking and/or doing drugs to hide from the truth. People don't want to face the truth and grow from it. So you keep trying to mask it, but once you face it, you give it time. With years of sobriety, it just keeps compounding, and life just gets better and better.
I've also been sober for quite a while. That's something I can relate to. However, I often talk to young people who can't imagine being sober.
The common thing people think is life won't be fun anymore.
It'll be boring. And at first, yeah, there's going to be some growing pains. You have to adjust. But those adjustments help you to find what it is that you actually like to do. Rather than just hanging out and doing nothing and partying, you're forced to find a passion or something.
I guess that's why you're always looking for new adventures. There's still something you need to get excited about. Then you just look for it in real life if you don't get it from drugs or booze.
Yes. For me, I had to find something that was just as exciting or more exciting than alcohol to replace it.
So if you have a goal or something you always wanted to do and you're scared of it or nervous, that might be the path you need to take. So let's try it out, you know? Could be more exciting than drinking, for sure.
What's your favorite memory so far? You mentioned you met so many cool people, but did anything stick out to you?
Let me see.
One time, an older couple came out to the side of the road and brought me lunch: homemade sandwich, some snacks, a couple of things, some water. The guy who was 40 years sober was one of the guys, and it was really cool seeing people who didn't skate, you know, the skate across America transcended skateboarding.
When you tell people about your mission, how do they react?
It's actually funny. People don't really get it when I bring it up. When I say, Hey, I'm skating across the country, they think, Oh, cool, he's skating around the country. And I have to say no. I'm literally pushing myself across the country. Once it hits them, their eyes light up. They're like, no way.
Do you know where you are staying tonight or, like, every night?
Sometimes I'll look it up in the morning or the day before, but right now, I have no idea where I'm staying tonight. I should probably look for it soon.
What are you going to do with the money? Give it to the foundation.
Yeah, Part of the money goes to help fund the trip. And then the other part goes to the foundation.
When you struggled with addiction, did people help you?
Well, I had a friend and my mom, and they lent me money so I could pay for the lawyer so I wouldn't go to jail when I got my DWI.
But other than that, I would say I did it kind of on my own. I didn't really go to any AA meetings or anything like that.
Last question, where are you going next?
That's a good question. I just have to look at the map. Probably today or tomorrow, I'll be in a place called Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
Chad, thanks for the interview. Have a great trip!