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Utah addiction recovery programs receive state grant funding

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 8, 2022

James Roh, Daily Herald file photo

Jeanice Zeeman, right, cheers on Blu Robinson, Jared Sears, and Heath Thurston, from left, during an Addict II Athlete training run in Provo on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Participants in Addict II Athlete, a program within the Utah County drug treatment program, exercise on a regular basis to help with their recovery process.

In 2017, L.T. Weaver’s son was in an accident that left him clinging to life. The situation was so upsetting, Weaver started drinking alcohol to cope.

“He was critically injured and the doctors kept telling us to pull the plug,” Weaver said. “I decided to use this as an excuse to drink myself to death.”

Weaver’s son survived the accident with some complications, but Weaver was already headed down a dangerous path to addiction, so he checked himself into a hospital for help.

“That, plus the accident, was a perspective change in life,” he said. “We sold our house, downsized, got out of debt and I decided to focus on spending the last half of my life doing something good.”

Weaver, a photographer and videographer, decided to open Recovering Addict, a company based in Ogden aimed at helping people stay sober from both alcohol and drugs through treatment and exercise. He said during the pandemic, he decided to go live online seven days a week. The response exploded from across the world, he said.

“Exercise is a huge benefit to anybody, so we decided to partner with Iron House gym on 14th and Wall and five days a week, we spend one hour exercising followed by a relapse prevention program,” Weaver said. “Once a month, we have activities that range from painting to rock climbing, hiking and laser tag. It’s all about having sober fun and learning new hobbies and experiencing healthy rewards.”

Weaver’s nonprofit organization is one of seven across the state awarded a total of $4 million in grant funds through the Health, Exercise, and Addiction Recovery Program. The HEAR Program is the first of its kind in the state, said Shanel Long, substance abuse treatment administrator with the Utah Department of Human Services.

“Although grants have been awarded in the past to support recovery from substance use disorders, this opportunity is unique in focusing specifically on physical health and wellness with treatment,” Long said. “We selected organizations currently offering or hoping to include physical wellness services who could quickly engage and recruit those in recovery.”

That’s exactly what Weaver’s organization is all about.

“The grant money will help more than I can even imagine,” he said. “I wanted to offer instant support and this will help cater to those who need support immediately.”

The organizations competed for funding grants through a procurement process, said Brook Dorff, public information officer for the Utah Department of Human Services. A total of $1 million per year over four years will be distributed from the state’s general fund combined with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Block Grant. Dorff added that exercise incorporated into treatment plans have been researched extensively and proven successful in keeping addicts in recovery longer.

Other organizations receiving grant money include:

  • Addict II Athlete, a statewide in-person and virtual support group along with personal training.
  • Fit to Recover in Utah, Salt Lake and Summit counties, a brick-and-mortar gym offering classes in fitness, nutrition, education, community meal preparation and creative arts.
  • Papilion House, an organization in Utah and Salt Lake counties assisting people who have been incarcerated to integrate back into the community as well as offering free memberships to local gyms, meal planning, nutrition and medical management.
  • School of Addiction Recovery, or SOAR, in Ogden and Weber County. SOAR focuses on youth and adolescents ages 10-18 and hosts group classes, an open gym, substance abuse prevention and recovery, and physical fitness activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing and weight lifting.
  • Warrior Strength in Utah, Weber, Summit and Salt Lake counties. The organization focuses on the community aspect of substance use disorder recovery through online classes. Once a week, a family-focused fitness class integrates the member’s family and friends, other allies and additional social supports.
  • Flourish Adventures in Salt Lake County, a paid internship program teaching professional baking to those recovering from substance use disorders with a history of incarceration. Participants receive health and wellness coaching, stress management techniques, meal preparation and holistic health interventions.

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