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An Interview with April Long

CEO of Smart Recovery Australia

April Long.png

April is the CEO of SMART Recovery, one of our trusted partner organisations. Recently, we sat down with them to hear about their thoughts on addiction support sector.

Can you tell us a bit about Smart Recovery?

SMART Recovery is designed to support individuals seeking recovery from addiction and problematic behaviours. It provides a science-based approach to addiction recovery and offers tools and techniques for self-empowerment.

We train organisations and individuals to run their own SMART Meeting with their community online or in person. We currently have over 250 meetings around the Australia.

SMART Recovery Australia proudly stands as a secular champion of recovery, partnering with over 75 Member organisations nationwide to deliver more than 250 local recovery meetings.

We believe in acting locally while thinking globally, as part of a global community of 3000 mutual-support groups led by SMART Recovery International.SMART Recovery Australia reduces the time taken to seek help by addressing the traditional barriers associated with seeking and accessing help for addiction.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I joined SMART Recovery as CEO just over 12 months ago. Prior, I had been working with children with a parent in prison at SHINE for Kids trying to reduce the impact of intergenerational incarceration and ensure healthy thriving families. I have seen a huge number of parents in custody who had not been given support but criminalised because of addiction, trauma and coping mechanisms that were not working for them.

I have my own lived experience of parental incarceration and addiction, and I am dedicated to supporting others on their healing journeys. I am driven to create a society that fosters support rather than stigmatisation.


What inspires you to do what you do every day?

What inspires me every day is my family and the courageous individuals who join SMART meetings to initiate the change they desire. I am motivated by those who, despite experiencing trauma, life challenges, and societal pressures, take that brave first step toward seeking a different path. Whether its attending a SMART Meeting, AA, undergoing home detox, or seeking residential support.

What do you see as the main benefits of home detox?

Home detox brings comfort, privacy, cost savings, and the ability to self-manage health with proper medical supervision. One of the most significant advantages is the comfort and emotional support it provides. Detoxification is a monumental step for most people, and being able to go through it in a familiar environment surrounded by their own comforts and support systems can make a world of difference.

What do you see as the potential of digital interventions and services in addressing addiction service gaps?

One of the key advantages of digital interventions is the increased accessibility they
provide. Not everyone has equal access to in-person services, and digital platforms can bridge that gap. They reach individuals who may be geographically isolated or have limited mobility, offering them a way to access treatment and support from the comfort of their own homes.

The initial first steps in seeking help through digital platforms can be a powerful catalyst, leading individuals to pursue more intensive face-to-face treatment options if needed.


What other changes would you like to see in how we think about and treat addiction?

Addiction is not a moral failing. Some of the greatest people I know and love have been impacted by addiction. They are kind, successful, loving, have good values and morals. They work hard and they care about their family and their community. It is vital to understand that addiction does not define a person’s worth or character.

As individuals, we have personal responsibility for seeking help and making positive
changes. However, as a community, we share a collective responsibility to support and understand our brothers, sisters, aunties, and uncles who are facing addiction.

Instead of judgment and blame, we must offer understanding and support. By walking alongside them, we can foster an environment of empathy and compassion.
To challenge the stigma and shame associated with addiction, we need to change public attitudes and beliefs. This requires open dialogue and the sharing of diverse experiences to help break down stereotypes and create a more inclusive and supportive society.

Policy reform is also necessary to create a more compassionate and supportive
environment for those affected by addiction. We should advocate for policies that reduce stigma, improve access to healthcare services, and prioritise a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment and support. This involves addressing systemic barriers, increasing funding for prevention and treatment, and ensuring that individuals can access the care they need without fear of discrimination or obstacles.

What do you see as the value or potential of your relationship with Clean Slate Clinic (to you / Smart Recovery)?

The primary focus of our partnership is to promote understanding, foster compassion, and ensure accessible and effective treatment for all individuals affected by addiction. People who are already falling through the cracks don’t need more gaps and a disconnected service system. By joining forces, Clean Slate Clinic and SMART Recovery enhance the support available, ensuring that no one is left behind.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to change their relationship with alcohol or another substance?

I want you to know that you are incredibly brave and capable. You are not alone in this journey. There are tools and support available to help you overcome the challenges you’re facing. I understand that the road ahead may be tough, but always remember that there is a community of people who have gone through similar experiences and are ready to offer their support.

It’s important to find what works best for you. Take the time to discover the strategies and resources that resonate with you personally. Set meaningful goals for yourself and work towards them. Remember, you have the power within you to change your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. While urges and cravings may arise, you can learn to manage them with the right support and coping mechanisms.

This is your life, and your story should be written on your own terms. However, please know that you don’t have to face this alone. Reach out to those who understand and care about your well-being.

You are not defined by any addiction. You deserve a life of health, happiness, and fulfilment. Believe in yourself and take those courageous steps forward. You have a whole community standing beside you, ready to support you every step of the way.

What would you like to see from Clean Slate Clinic next?

As a priority, through digital innovation and collaboration I would love to see Clean Slate Clinic available in every community in Australia where support is needed.

Addiction is a global public health concern with widespread impacts and I see huge potential for Clean Slate Clinic and SMART Recovery to act locally and think globally.

Collaboration among governments, organisations, healthcare systems, and communities is necessary to tackle the challenges posed by addiction on a global scale and to improve access to support and treatment for individuals affected by addiction. I would like to see Clean Slate Clinic supporting that collaboration and scaling what works nationally to around the world.

Our national partnership will continue to help consolidate the alcohol addiction help space within Australia.

For more information on SMART recovery, visit this link.

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