SMART Recovery Australia embraces a harm minimisation approach to the problems of addictive behaviour. This means different things for different people. For some, the way to minimise harm is total abstinence. For others, using a small amount of their drug, substance, or behaviour of choice is the best way to take care of themselves. Whatever the method, we support anything that reduces harm.
One of the most powerful, if controversial, harm minimisation resources in the southern hemisphere is the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, (or MSIC). The MSIC, like the SMART program, recognises each patient as an entire, complex person. This holistic, person-centred approach is no small part of the MSIC’s success.
“It’s not about being cured. It’s about respecting life.” says William Wood, clinical nurse consultant and referral coordinator.
The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has, for decades, provided a place where people who choose to inject drugs can access clean needles. The simplicity of that description belies the complex web of human experience connected to those on the margins of our society.
It means no need to share needles, and a massively reduced risk of spreading HIV and other diseases. It means basic health care, like seeing a GP for the first time in 5 years. Flu jabs. Being treated like a human. It means trained medical staff on hand in the event of an overdose. That means no deaths from overdose. Zero. Not once has an individual died of overdose at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in all its decades of practice.
People, as we are often reminded, are complex and often contradictory. It can be easy to see the path to recovery as a race, with “addiction” at the beginning and “cure” at the end. However, human beings are rarely this simple, and rarely this straightforward. Recovery can be an unfathomably complicated process, with pitfalls, lapses, and unique challenges to every single individual on its long and winding path.
There are many stages of recovery and many places suited to these. For some people, SMART Recovery meetings might not be the best thing at that moment – such as someone in need of immediate, acute care, rather than a structured self-help approach. However, this does not mean that any link in the recovery chain is any less vital than another.
For further information about the Uniting MSIC, go to https://www.uniting.org/community-impact/uniting-medically-supervised-injecting-centre–msic or read https://www.nursingreview.com.au/2020/05/inside-the-southern-hemispheres-first-medically-supervised-injecting-centre/