Wellbeing Place in Broken Hill

SMART strategies, tools, helping people overcome addiction

Date published

09 May 2024

Addiction comes in many shapes, and despite more knowledge around risk factors and the impact addiction can have on families, it remains on ongoing challenge for people from all walks of life.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed that publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in New South Wales provided treatment to more than 28,000 clients. Of that number, around half said that alcohol was either the principal or additional drug of concern they were seeking support for.

On the fringes, we see new kinds of addictions in our communities. Gaming, for instance, was formally recognised as a diagnosable addiction by the World Health Organisation in 2018. People can also experience addiction around food, shopping or other compulsive behaviours that can be detrimental to the individual and to their families.

Not recognising and working towards managing and overcoming addiction can lead to difficulties with relationships, friendships, finances, employment and everyday life. Dealing with addiction can be particularly difficult for people living in rural and remote areas.

      AOD Lead Anne Te Kawa

      Isolation from networks and with specialist support and resources potentially hundreds of kilometres away can make dealing with addiction seem like it’s ‘just too hard’.

      This is why the Royal Flying Doctor Service is investing in trained staff and programs to help people understand and overcome their addiction issues.

      Our RFDS Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) team have for the past few years added to their service delivery a globally recognised program to support clients with addiction issues, using practical self-help strategies grounded in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) a type of psychotherapy that supports people to change unhelpful or unhealthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. 

      The program is called SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery and has been assisting people in Australia for 20 years with a range of addictions including but not limited to alcohol, illicit substances, food, shopping, gaming and gambling.

      SMART Recovery meetings focus on the behaviours, and not the substance – meaning they are suitable for any problematic or addictive behaviour by supporting people to:

      • Build and maintain motivation.
      • Cope with urges and cravings.
      • Manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
      • Lead a balanced life.
        AOD Clinician, Ian Harvey

        Today, SMART Recovery Australia partners with over 75 organisations, running 250 groups and delivering 13,000 individual meetings to over 130,000 Australians.

        Our AoD team in Broken Hill, Dubbo, Lightning Ridge and Cobar, offer free, confidential SMART Recovery weekly sessions at our Wellbeing Place hubs and via telehealth, for those struggling with addiction and in need of support, guidance and motivation.

        AOD Clinician, Ian Harvey said the sessions are incredibly supportive and open to anyone struggling with an addiction. No referral is needed to attend, and participants disclose only what they feel comfortable revealing.

        ”Participants learn from one another, and it is not a one size fits all because what works for that person might not work for somebody else, but if they’re hearing different experiences they can learn and potentially adapt something that suits them” Mr Harvey said.

        Participants reflect back on how their last week has been, discuss the agenda item they have put forward and what their goals are for the coming week, with SMART Recovery tools taught and used during the meeting.

        “Our clients have benefited more from hearing strategies and tools from their peers because they understand what they are going through. All we ask is they commit to manageable goals over the seven days between meetings,” AoD Clinician, Karen Manning said.

        “I’ve had clients attend who initially do not want to be there and at the end tell me how helpful it has been, wanting to come back and how grateful they are to their peers for listening.”

        "Participants learn from one another, and it is not a one size fits all because what works for that person might not work for somebody else..."

        AOD Clinician, Ian Harvey

        If you would like to know more about the SMART Recovery meets hosted by RFDS AOD clinicians, please contact the Wellbeing Place near your closest location:

        • Broken Hill - 0439 515 247
        • Dubbo - 0438 422 794
        • Lightning Ridge - 0473 655 577
        • Cobar - 0437077203

        The mutual-aid interactive group session lasts approximately 60 minutes.