SMART Recovery Australia

Behind the Scenes of Take On Addiction

How many jokes have you heard that begin with a combination of “An Australian, an Englishman, an American and an Irishman walk into a bar…?”

Well, in this case, it’s not a joke … it actually did happen, in a virtual sense, when they all entered a Zoom meeting (not a bar) and that has made the Take On Addiction campaign possible. 

Then, to make the idea of that joke resonate further, Brett Macdonald (who is English, by the way) enters. This is no longer even remotely a joke, it is a reality. 

Brett is one of the founders of Dry July – I’m sure many of you would be very aware of the title, the event, and their very reputable and respected charitable goals. Brett and his team at Ezy Raise are the amazing group behind helping SMART Recovery bring Take On Addiction to the world. 

Interestingly, and very significant to the Take On Addiction campaign and our goal to raise awareness of the organisation, is that Brett wasn’t aware of SMART before Kim McCreanor, the Executive Officer of SMART Recovery International, approached him.

Brett’s decision to be involved wasn’t done on a whim, however, as Brett made sure it was the right organisation and project to get involved in. In his words, “I had a lot of questions about SMART… I wanted to know about the objectives of this event based project,” and Brett very quickly realised how substantial the issue of addiction really is on a global scale. He states, “Addiction is much, much closer to home than anyone realises. It needs to be talked about and not just swept under the carpet like it has been for so many years.”

The whole point that SMART Recovery alongside Ezy Raise is setting out to prove is that this is a global health crisis that needs to be discussed and acknowledged. Take On Addiction is a vehicle to “allow people to have these discussions, become involved in the cause and get fit and healthy at the same time.”

Brett pointed out just how “stigmatised and overlooked addiction is and that it really isn’t getting the attention or focus it needs. Learning about SMART and where they wanted to take it was really interesting to me.”

A big point for Brett was that he saw a lot of similarities between SMART’s Take On Addiction campaign and Dry July, and those similarities stem from focusing on “getting a hard message across and focusing on getting people interested and involved.”

It hasn’t been a short or easy road because a cause-related campaign is often difficult to bring into the general public and make it accessible, relatable and consumable so that the ultimate outcome can be achieved. That goal is not commercial. Yes, donations are gratefully accepted and we do need funds to do what we do at SMART but, on top of that, we are looking for exposure and understanding of what SMART Recovery is all about so that we can help more people.

Brett sums up Take On Addiction perfectly by saying, “We want to be able to elevate the idea (SMART) and make it something that people are more aware of, discussing, getting involved in and supporting.” And that is what Ezy Raise is assisting SMART with by helping us with exposure, marketing and outreach. 

As with many people, Brett has experienced loved ones close to him being challenged by addictive behaviours and hopes that his work on this campaign can help individuals and families in the future. 

Brett and his team at Ezy Raise have done a great job of working with all the SMART Recovery country organisations as the audiences all expect and are used to very different materials, language and approach. Brett has loved seeing it all come together and all these countries “collectively working towards a common goal that is smashing stigma … plus SMART is now better aligned with their messaging and visions, which is great, and it’s really shone through just how passionate everyone is about SMART.”

A bit of a secret tip as to how it is that Brett gets through his giant to-do list in a day is to break it up into timeframes but if something doesn’t work out, he always makes sure that he is accountable. It sounds simple but is actually wise advice from a very successful and impactful person – “With Take On Addiction we aren’t cutting corners … We are doing everything reactively to get the best possible results.”

And, in the essence of Take On Addiction’s walk, run, cycle or do it your own way – Brett had to have a hip replacement because he loves skiing (and admits that he’s obviously not very good at it, hence the surgery!)

Personally, for Take On Addiction, Brett is going to be doing 45 minutes of walking every day in April. Join him and the rest of the team to increase awareness of SMART Recovery, raise funds to continue our work and to help smash stigma! 

Find out more information about Take On Addiction, register or donate here