How overcoming addiction inspired one Central Ohioan to chase his dream

On May 23, David Sigal celebrated his fourth anniversary. The warm, friendly 26-year-old has spent the last four years working hard. He's been busy, launching a business, starting a foundation, developing partnerships. He's also said a lot of goodbyes. He's lost friends, many of whom simply couldn't understand his transformation and chose to follow a different path. Others, tragically, are no longer here. They couldn't achieve what David has-sobriety-and, like tens of thousands of Americans each year, succumbed to their addictions. It's an awful, gut-wrenching story; a story David hopes to tell no longer. Instead of simply mourning, he decided to take action.

"I'm a recovering addict; I was in rehab just a few years ago," says David, who became addicted to painkillers in his early twenties. Before entering The Woods at Parkside in Gahanna, David-who's a talent recruiter for the family biz, Sigal Models-weighed 135 pounds. He's six-foot-five.

"As a young kid, he was very talented," says his mother, Karen Sigal. "But, once that dark period came about, it was just masked."

After successful addiction treatment-and a few years spent earning back his family's trust-David says, "I started to feel like I needed to do something more."

Enter Loud Life (the "Loud" stands for "Living Out Ur Dreams"), which Sigal launched last year. Part nonprofit, part clothing company-proceeds from logo-adorned ball caps, sweatshirts, T-shirts and more benefit the Loud Life foundation-it will be, Sigal hopes, an alternative to post-rehabilitation options currently offered to recovering addicts.

"I wished I had something after rehab," he says. "Leaving that life behind was pretty lonely. I realized that, had I had mentors who had been through something similar, it could have been easier."

"They said to take him to a halfway house," Karen adds. "That wasn't our solution. But there wasn't an alternative. What do you do?"

David's hope is that Loud Life addiction-recovery centers will expand across the country. "We want to be an after-care center, and our main goal is to create Loud Life centers, similar to the YMCA, for teens that need an outlet, a positive space," he says. "But, there are steps involved."

In the short term, David's raising, via his foundation, funds for The Woods at Parkside. Instead of writing a check, he's hoping to purchase items to modernize the rehabilitation center, which David says is outdated, cold, uninspiring. "I was so lucky to get a spot there, I know that," he says. "But these centers are so antiquated."

Loud Life will also serve as an alternative to modern-day drug-prevention programs, says David, who's spoken at local schools and churches about his own struggles. "It's a very outdated system right now," he says. "There's D.A.R.E., which is provided so early, and then high school happens … kids just get lost.

"Everyone has such beautiful talents," he continues. "These are human beings who have love and skills and passion. They just need to be inspired and encouraged by the right people."

Making his mark isn't likely to be easy. There are already many organizations focused on addiction and recovery. But he has support, and he has drive. And, most importantly, he says, he has his experiences. It's the fact that he's already hit rock bottom that will help him reach people in a way other programs can't.

"Loud Life is about inspiring people," he says. "Nothing changes if nothing changes. I don't want to just feed the war stories … I want to say that you, even if you're in full-blow addiction, can take a different path."