Bon Voyage, Ryan

SMART Recovery Australia

Sadly, Ryan McGlaughlin, our Executive Director has moved on from SMART Recovery Australia. Ryan has been working with us for over eight years and has made an immeasurable impact and contribution to our organisation. 

Ryan said on his departure, “With a new talented and committed staff team and Board in place, I have accepted it is time to pass the baton to new leadership for SMART Recovery Australia … I will continue to support the amazing SMART program in Australia and globally, and I look forward to seeing what the organisation does next.” 

The Board of SMART Recovery Australia commends Ryan on how he has taken the organisation to new heights, in particular the development of SMART Recovery International, playing a major role in establishing our Research Advisory Committee, and launching our global Take On Addiction campaign this year. 

Ryan is proud that “So many people have expressed that not only has SMART been a part of their journey that helped them get in control of their behaviours, but allowed them to continue on to do exceptional things with their lives.” For example, one individual who was incarcerated for DUI for three years has completed a degree in Psychology and is now undertaking their PhD. Another SMART participant that Ryan remembers well states, “SMART Recovery changed my life. I now have direction. I have a purpose. And I have value.”

For some people, the story doesn’t always end on a positive note. Ryan refers to one person that he held in high regard that was a SMART participant, who fundraised for SMART and then was a Peer Facilitator that went public with their story. This choice backfired and they suffered unnecessary vilification. This story stuck with Ryan as he is a passionate supporter of reducing the often toxic stigma surrounding people with addictive problematic behaviours.

Ryan believes that combating stigma is a major challenge for the entire sector. Just because someone might have behaviours of concern, it doesn’t mean they should be judged. SMART Ambassador Mick Palmer AO, APM, who Ryan sees as one of Australia’s most respected drug law reform advocates, has strongly advocated that a user of drugs should not be punished, but offered our help – addictive behaviour is a global health issue.

Ryan feels both privileged and proud of what he has been able to achieve at SMART. These achievements have not occurred in a vacuum, or without the support and talent of many outstanding individuals, of which there are too many to list. 

He does however want to single out two people that have been instrumental to the SMART Recovery global journey. Dr Joe Gerstein, Co-founder of SMART Recovery, who has selflessly travelled around the world promoting the program and training SMART facilitators (and is still doing so at an age when many would have truly retired). 

The other is Tony Wales AM, who was the inaugural Chair of SMART Recovery Australia. SMART Recovery Australia and SMART Recovery International would not be where both organisations are without his commitment and generous support. Ryan believes our world would be a better place if there were more people like Joe and Tony. 

We bid adieu to Ryan and in the words of Tony Wales, “Ryan is a person of the utmost integrity and honesty who cares about everyone…” 

Thank you, Ryan, for your immense contribution and you will be greatly missed by all at SMART Recovery.