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Addicted Australia (ATOM Study Guide)

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Turning Point is a national addiction treatment and research centre in Melbourne. It estimates that one in five Australians will have a problem with alcohol, drugs or gambling at some point in their lives.

Addicted Australia is a television first. For six months, Blackfella Films was given extraordinary access to ten Australians and their families as they battled addiction. Having signed up to a unique treatment program, the series follows the participants' heart-wrenching journey from despair to hope and possible recovery.

The six-month treatment program delivered by Turning Point is designed to provide holistic and bespoke care for each individual. The program is broad and varied, comprising one or more of the following depending on individual requirements: detox and short stay rehab, medical support, one on one psychiatric and psychological counselling, group peer support, family support and social worker care.

In the peer support meetings, similar to the model followed by organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, participants share their experiences in a group setting. This is access rarely, if ever, seen on television. The participants, each dealing with different forms of addiction, openly discuss their experiences.

We see the participants in their everyday environments, including home and work. And witness firsthand the reality of the recovery journey; the highs and the lows.

Addicted Australia aims to reduce the stigma and stereotype of addiction. The series humanises those that have fallen to their vice and are desperate to escape it through revealing and interrogating the trauma they have faced and the reasons for their addictions. The intention is to show what treatment can look like to encourage others to seek help.

This is also a story about families caught up in the heartbreak of the addiction cycle. The treatment program provides them with their own unique group run by Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC). The group meetings are a chance to talk and seek out one another for support.

A team of professional staff, with years of specialist experience, run the treatment program. They oversee the six months of care, in line with the latest thinking and research around rehabilitating the many thousands of Australians battling addiction. They hope that this treatment program will not only help the participants but also be a catalyst for systemic change. Succeed here, and Australia could shift its approach to dealing with the addiction crisis.

The ten participants are all at different starting points on their journey. Some in a state of abstinence hoping to sustain their recovery; others attempting to manage their addiction. Some see the program as their final chance after years of failed treatment. For others, this is the first time they have put up their hand and finally asked for help. Their pathways to recovery are richly varied and nuanced, with the narrative reflecting the myriad of possibilities. We follow them all.

Curriculum Links:

Addicted Australia is a recommended resource for students in Years 10–12 in the learning areas of:

  • English
  • Health
  • Health and Human Development
  • Media
  • VCAL Literacy and VCAL Personal Development Skills

Teachers should consult the study designs and curriculum outlines relevant to these subjects in their state or territory.

Teachers are advised to preview Addicted Australia before classroom screenings. The series contains coarse language and references to the use of licit and illicit substances. This study guide is primarily about Episodes 1 and 2. Given the content of Episodes 3 and 4, these episodes are not referenced in this study guide.

Students should be briefed about the content and purpose of Addicted Australia before viewing. For some students in the class, viewing Addicted Australia may be both confronting and upsetting. Teachers need to respect the circumstances of these students and remain aware of their sensitivities. It is important to recognise that some students may not want to share their responses to some tasks. In addition, students should be reminded that a classroom discussion is a public forum and that some information should not be disclosed in this context.

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