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Our Town Reno: Former Addict Now Inspires Others

A man sitting in front of a desk looking up with papers in front of him.
Jordan Gearey

Grant Denton is a peer recovery specialist and program developer at the Life Change Center non-profit organization in Reno. Before devoting himself to helping others; however, Denton had to first help himself.



From the Depths of a Troubled Childhood and Adulthood

Denton’s downward spiral was nearly unavoidable from a young age. He grew up in a Mormon family of eight with an abusive father, and he was molested by a man at his church at the age of eleven.

"When things like that happen to you as a kid, and these people who are supposed to protect you, your teachers, your church should maybe protect you a little bit... your parents should probably protect you. And then, when this doesn't happen, then you stop trusting everybody... And so, when you stop trusting people ... my lack of trust moved me in the direction of going downhill," Denton recalls.

For five years, Denton worked in Vegas as a nightclub performer selling drugs on the side. After becoming a father, he tried to make an “honest living,” but his attempt failed and he continued to spiral downward.

“...I ended up doing a lot of pills, doing meth, and then I worked my way down to being homeless for three years in Vegas...In the last three years, I was shooting heroin and meth and homeless in Vegas," he remembers.

Denton also recalls visiting his children in the midst of his homelessness and drug abuse, and having his son steal money for him from his ex-wife. That was when he realized that he had reached his lowest point.

Being a Loser, at the Lowest, to Now Inspiring Other

Now, Denton has been sober since 2014, and after recently moving to Reno, he established himself at the Life Change Center, which helps addicts turn their lives around. At the center, he developed the Spartans, a volunteer program for people in recovery, who paint and clean in the community as a way to help other local social assistance and recovery programs.

"The purpose ... is to get them out in the community giving back and that’s a good way to integrate them back into the community where they feel like they're a part of something," he says.

Denton, having found his upward spiral, denies having any past regrets. To him, everything that he has gone through and overcome needed to happen for him to inspire others today.

Read the rest of this story at Our Town Reno.

This story was reported by Prince Nesta for Our Town Reno, a multimedia street reporting project run by the Reynolds Media Lab.

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