Consider English tabloid media’s most recent battering ram. Former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has been arrested for public intoxication in the United States. In between the sneering headlines about “broken English” is a man clearly battling his problem behaviour around alcohol. As a man who, in his thirties, has done little other than play football and spend leviathan volumes of money, a lack of ability to make good decisions in a world of yes-men might not seem surprising. However, this highlights one of the more nuanced areas that SMART Recovery Australia sees daily: the lighter shades of addictive behaviour.
Many of the participants we see at SMART Recovery meetings come to us in the wake of a bad decision. Maybe they drove while under the influence, or were caught with a controlled substance at a dance party. Some people hardly ever drink, but when they do, come home with bruised knuckles and an assault charge, finding themselves arrested and ordered to attend addiction recovery sessions.
Addiction, simply defined, is the state of being physically or mentally dependent on a particular substance or behaviour. However, individuals exhibiting problem behaviour when under the influence (how many times have you heard “he’s so nice when he isn’t drinking?”) may not be dependent on their substance of choice. They might not need to drink in order to function, but still need to get their drinking under control.
SMART Recovery Australia, broadly speaking, engages with and aims to help those with any sort of problem behaviour. Of course, we see people in the deepest, darkest throes of substance abuse, physically dependent on alcohol to get out of bed in the morning, or risking death by withdrawal due to the sheer intensity of their heroin habit. However, we also see people who want to quit smoking, or who want to learn ways to practice moderation and minimise the negative consequences of their actions.
Some people might not identify as having addiction issues, or feel like the image they have of themselves matches the one that pops up when they think of addiction. That doesn’t mean they don’t need help, nor that we won’t provide it to them.
If you’re feeling like your behaviour around a substance is giving you grief, and you’re not sure what to do, we’re here to help.