‘Clean and sober’: Lion’s Gate Recovery promotes transformative healing for long-term success

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — At Lion’s Gate Recovery, they champion the transformative power of healing. By prioritizing the strength of the human spirit over addiction, they guide individuals through a journey of genuine recovery, fostering true and lasting sobriety rooted in personal growth and spiritual renewal.

Stock image | Photo by kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

“We do things differently,” clinical director Aaron Ward said. “We believe in the old-school way, which is clean and sober. Clean and sober means clean and sober.”

At Lion’s Gate, each of their team members is intimately familiar with addiction and recovery, whether through their own experiences or by supporting someone close to them. This personal connection fosters a deep sense of empathy and compassion, enabling them to effectively assist others on their path to healing. Ward himself has been clean and sober since 1990, the same year he began dedicating his life to helping others struggling with substance abuse.

The Lion’s Gate program incorporates a variety of methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step work and guidance to find a personal spiritual path. They also offer unique activities such as jiujitsu, rope courses, group therapy and other activities that foster camaraderie and support recovery.

Lion’s Gate prioritizes the power of the human spirit. Unlike addictive substances, which can dull the spirit and create a “synthetic” sense of self, Ward said they focus on rekindling and empowering the genuine human spirit. He is currently writing a book on his multi-layered “synthetic spirit” theory.

This theory explores how drug or alcohol addiction stifles spiritual evolution, trapping individuals in a repetitive cycle akin to the storyline of “Groundhog Day.” This stagnation leads to arrested development, increased selfishness and stunted personal growth.

Staff of Lion’s Gate Recovery, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Lion’s Gate Recovery, St. George News

The Lion’s Gate approach to recovery means that clients are supported through detox and their residential stay, emerging clean and sober. But Ward said “clean and sober” can mean different things to different people. He explained that most programs in Southern Utah and much of Northern Utah start individuals on maintenance medications, regardless of whether they’re dealing with alcohol, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl or other substances. This approach is often mistaken for detox, but its true aim is to stabilize individuals with predictable substances like Suboxone, Adderall or sedatives.

Originally, patients were brought to the point of serious withdrawal before Suboxone was administered to alleviate the pain, as opioid withdrawal, while extremely uncomfortable and painful, is not fatal. Over a five-to-seven-day taper period, the dosage would be gradually reduced from 12 milligrams to half a milligram. If patients used another opioid while on Suboxone, they would experience immediate withdrawal rather than a high. However, that medication has since been discontinued.

“The medication that helps them break the cycle of addiction isn’t in there anymore,” Ward said. “And that’s the problem.” 

Subutex, a synthetic opioid, is currently available. While it doesn’t match the exact structure or potency of heroin or pain pills, it is similar. The goal is to start at a higher dose and later stabilize at a lower level. Ward said Subutex is meant to prevent withdrawal symptoms, a practice often mistaken for recovery. The same applies to methadone. However, in his experience, this approach rarely leads to lasting recovery but instead keeps people in the addiction cycle.

Most individuals stay on these maintenance medications for years and eventually return to their original drug of choice, he said. And that’s the danger of replacing drugs with other drugs.

Stock image | Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

“The relapse rate has skyrocketed,” he added. “The death rate has exponentially skyrocketed because of what they’re doing. It’s not just fentanyl; it’s keeping them in the opioid cycle that’s killing them.”

The Lion’s Gate approach involves tapering down detox medication until, within a few days, individuals are truly clean and sober with no maintenance medications in their system. This method has yielded high success rates, with 30-50% of participants maintaining long-term sobriety.

For clients seeking medication-assisted treatment, commonly known as MAT, monthly Vivitrol shots are available. This medication prevents individuals from experiencing a high and instead induces sickness if they attempt to use substances, providing a physiological aid in their recovery.

Along with his role as clinical director, Ward hosts family group therapy meetings at Lion’s Gate. Some participants have been attending the same group for 15 years, finding significant support as they navigate the challenges of watching loved ones cycle through treatment, with some achieving sobriety and others succumbing to addiction. 

Family Group at Lion’s Gate is open to anyone wanting information about addiction, and there’s no charge to attend. The group meets every Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m. at 260 W. St. George Blvd. in St. George.

“All our counselors and most of us are in recovery,” Ward said. “All of us understand what recovery is and what it means. It’s not halfway. We’re all in.”

Written by JESSI BANG for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T •


  • Lion’s Gate Recovery | Address: 260 W. St. George Blvd., St. George or 535 S. Main St. #2, Cedar City | Telephone: 866-471-9476 | Website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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