Josette Freeman, our Senior National Coordinator and pivotal early adopter of SMART Recovery in Australia, recently attended the international Cutting Edge Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on addiction. Josette delivered a rousing presentation on SMART Recovery Australia and the great work we do in the world of addiction. Although we’re called SMART Recovery Australia, we have several meetings operating in New Zealand, including some Be SMART support groups for those whose loved ones are dealing with addiction. The Kiwis get to win the rugby, and we get the name (for now) – seems a fair trade.

The theme of this year’s Cutting Edge Conference was “Addiction is Everyone’s Business”. SMART Recovery Australia (and New Zealand) wholeheartedly agrees: addiction affects everyone, from the person battling their own behaviour to their loved ones and those around them. The impact of addiction is one with a ripple effect, reaching from the individual to a higher social level. Our research tells us that the children of parents affected by addiction, for example, tend to perform poorly compared to their peers, which has a knock-on effect in the classroom, and will continue to affect that child as they grow up. From a harm minimisation perspective, the theme of the Cutting Edge conference makes perfect sense.

Trips like these foster cooperation between the different levels of addiction support, from AOD nurses and detox managers to peer support workers and, of course, our wonderful group facilitators. A huge part of tackling the issue of addiction in our society is coordination and mutual aid between the different levels of addiction support services. Only by putting people, not the service, and not the offence, at the centre of what we do can we make a real, tangible difference.