Dori Granados traces her addiction back to age 12 when she began compulsively eating food, followed by alcohol abuse then experimenting with drugs by age 14. She continued to use various drugs, including speed and meth, before settling on crack cocaine when she was 30.
“You name it, I tried it at least once. I didn’t say no to any drug,” said Dori, who is 53 now. She last used drugs 10 years ago.
Dori stopped at nothing to get a fix. She sold her son’s things, manipulated people for money and prostituted herself. She lied, stole and dealt drugs. But even when she was going to these extreme lengths to buy drugs, she didn’t recognize she had a problem.
“I didn’t realize that I had an addiction until I met with crack cocaine,” Dori said. “When my life started spinning out of control, I started realizing I had a problem, but I came to point where I even settled with that. … I settled with my addiction, and I said ‘This is who I am, and if you don’t like it, screw you.’ ”
Dori’s addiction would lead her to being charged with at least 19 misdemeanors and 11 felony drug charges, which resulted in six misdemeanor and four felony convictions, according to her criminal history. She was in and out of prison from 1990-2006.
In 2004, while sitting in a prison cell, Dori said God put a recovery home on her heart. She started telling people she was going to help addicts like herself. She didn’t know how or when, but at that moment she knew it was what she was meant to do.
It would take years and a few more trips to prison before Dori would get the opportunity to run a recovery home. In the meantime, she continued to use and sell drugs.
“I kept saying I wanted to change, but I really didn’t want to change,” Dori said. “I wanted to change because everyone else wanted me to change, because that’s what society said I should do. But I’m not sure if I wanted to change.”
The Anonymous Addict (pt. 1)
Nick Siano and Phylisia Donaldson speak with a former addict, who describes their time using meth and the impact it had on their family(by Nick Siano) (Part 1 of 2).
Dori said she was stuck in a “precontemplative stage.” She thought about changing, but fear stopped her. For someone who had used drugs since age 14, life without drugs looked dark.
“There were several times when I was out there and I was dealing or I was using and I would pray, and I would say, ‘God, I can’t keep doing this,’” Dori said. “I was tired. I was worn out, and I said, ‘God, I can’t keep doing this, and I can’t stop. Do something.’ And before my prayer was over, the red and blue lights would be in my rearview mirror.”
It wasn’t until she was arrested in 2006 and charged with selling drugs and sentenced to 10 years in prison that she decided to get clean once and for all.
“I went to prison with the attitude that ‘I’m gonna take this time to prepare for the rest of my life,” Dori said. “And so I accepted that as God answering my prayer and moved forward with an attitude of, ‘Look out life, here I come.’ ”
She began reading her Bible again and talking to God. During the four years in prison, Dori attended college. She received her associate’s degree and was released early on good behavior.
In 2013, she was approached by Muncie’s Urban Light Community Church, where she had been working as a church administrator, with the offer to open a recovery home. After working on the project for a year, UrbanLightHouse opened in November 2014.
Nine women have gone through Dori’s program. Three have successfully graduated, one is back in jail, one is back using; four did not officially graduate but remain clean.
“I mean, I have about a 50 percent rate,” Dori said. “One out of every two is making it — whether they finish the program or not. I don’t gauge my success on whether you finish my program. I don’t even gauge success on whether you pay the fees. I gauge success on are you working and are you living a functional life?”
UrbanLightHouse houses up to six women as they complete a three-phase program. The first phase of the program is known as “intense recovery.” The women give up their cell phones; adhere to a strict curfew and journal daily. They participate in book studies and attend church on Sundays. Though their contact with others is limited during this phase, Megan Stephens, who joined the program Aug. 10, said this is the phase where you really learn about yourself.
“It’s kind of like the meat of the program,” Megan said. “You do your book studies, and you’re pretty much finding out who you are sober again. You’re getting that clarity.”
Megan has now been able to move into phase two, which encourages the women to find jobs and learn about budgeting. Their income covers some of the program fees, but UrbanLightHouse runs mainly on donations. The women open savings account and learn to save their money to use for living arrangements after they graduate from the program.
Megan said she is excited to have moved into the next phase.
“I guess I’ve never went through something in the past and stuck with it. I’ve always been a quitter,” Megan said. “I’m not a quitter nowadays. … It just feels amazing to go through with something and just to feel that accomplishment.”
The final phase prepares the women for life outside of the program. They continue working and saving money in Phase Three, but also begin looking for future residency.
Alisha Tuttle graduated from the program and said she learned more about herself and her addiction in the nine months she was in the program than the 37 years she has been alive. She now serves as a housemother, mentoring other women currently in the program.
Many UrbanLightHouse participants said they like the program has multiple phases because other programs last 30 days, and it takes a much longer period of time to fight addiction.
“After years of addiction, how do you go into a program for two weeks or for 30 days and walk out a different person? You don’t, ” Alisha said.
In addition to the longer program, the women say having Dori as a mentor also has made a difference.
“We’re not just a folder or a piece of paper to her with a name on it,” Megan said. “She truly cares. We’re family over there to her. That’s what’s amazing about it.”
The women recently moved into a new house that will serve as the UrbanLightHouse until a larger home is fully renovated. The bigger home will offer more rooms for women in phases one and two, with an additional room for those in Phase 3. But Dori still plans to keep the number of women in the program small.
“When you get more than 10 people, you start separating off in little groups and you become in cliques,” Dori said. “And that’s what we don’t do. We are small, and we don’t have cliques. We are a family.”
The work doesn’t stop with recovery programs. Dori said there has to be open communication about addiction if Delaware County hopes to gain control of the drug problem.
“People who don’t understand the addict don’t know how to help them,” Dori said. “Once we can get an idea of what addiction is and what is at the root of it, we can help work through those things. … Many of us practice addictions long before our lives fall apart. We’re functional. We can over work; we can drink too much; we can overspend. A lot of us are in addictive behaviors, and we don’t know it.”
The Anonymous Addict (pt. 2)
A former addict describes how meth affects her life to this day (by Nick Siano) (Part 2 of 2).
The women who participate in UrbanLightHouse agree. They hope if more people understand addiction, it could bring more residential recovery programs to Muncie. Because Delaware County does not have a long-term rehabilitation center, they believe the UrbanLightHouse is the only real option for addicts.
“It’s truly been a blessing to me,” Megan said. “I believe if I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be getting the relationship back with my daughter, and I would not be passing my screens. … I think Delaware County should get more places like this. I believe it would help a lot of people. I had thought people had given up on me, that (Delaware County’s Forensic Diversion) Drug Court was about to give up on me, and they’re just so amazed right now. It’s a good feeling.”
Megan said she hopes to maintain her current work situation and strengthen her relationship with her daughter. She said she is looking forward to graduating from the program, getting back to her family, and working on a GED.
Dori couldn’t be happier with the success of her program.
“I was the person wasting away my life, and now I’m the one they look to for help,” Dori said. “God has opened every door for me. All I have to do is keep being the best person I can be.” life without drugs looked dark.
Toddrick Gordon started his position as the Community Outreach Pastor in 2011 for Urban Light Community Church. Beforehand, he was struggling with his own addiction. Phylisia Donaldson reports.