SMART Recovery Australia National Program Coordinator Josette Freeman is calling for long-term rehabilitation options to help ice addicts get clean.

This article appeared in the Manly Daily, Hornsby and Upper North Shore Advocate, and the Liverpool Leader in September, 2015

Author: Rebecca Isaacs (Content in RED in not the work of the author, this is amended text by SMART Recovery staff)


Ice uses in Sydney need more long-term rehabilitation options to help them get clean, a respected drug and alcohol nurse says.

“It’s not just about whacking these people into detox,“ Josette Freeman, National Program Coordinator at non-for profit addiction support organisation SMART Recovery, said.

“There has to be follow-up care and, at the moment, that is greatly lacking.”

Mrs Freeman hopes a conference being held in Sydney on September 22 and 23, Tackling Methamphetamine will result in more money for long-term programs like the SMART Recovery program.

Dr Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and the conference’s keynote speaker said he would absolutely use the event to ask for more government resources.

“At the moment we have about half the capacity we need to deal with the problem. We need more of everything particularly self-help programs (like SMART),” he said.

Dr Wodak orchestrated the first SMART Recovery group in Australia ten years ago at St. Vincent’s Hospital drug and alcohol unit, in Sydney.

He did this in collaboration with American Dr Joe Gerstein, who is the founder of the evidence-based group program for people trying to recover from problematic behaviours.

Currently there are over 1500 weekly SMART Recovery meetings taking place in 17 different counties. There are over 130 meetings across Australia and in Sydney, including the inner city, inner west, eastern suburbs a north shore.

SMART meetings use cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to help people challenge behaviours including drug, alcohol, gambling and cigarette addiction.

Mrs. Freeman has run a weekly SMART meeting on the North Shore since 2012 and has seen the severity of Sydney’s ice epidemic.

She said one long-term program was not enough. “You can go to Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous but they are 12 step,” she said.

“The stimulant treatment program at St Vincent’s is capped at a certain number of attendees, and other programs are usually six to 10 weeks.

“These programs don’t provide the follow-through care that ice addicts need.

“The government needs to allocate more resources to care for people trying to stay clean.”

Mrs Freeman said ice was “a big, big problem” affecting the lives of people across all demographics and socio-economic backgrounds in Sydney.

“This drug does not discriminate. We’re talking lawyers and stockbrokers; people who have money and high-powered jobs, she said.

“Most of the people who come to the North Shore meeting are working or studying.”

Leave a Reply