More real conversations will help better understand addiction

17 May 2021

Executive Clinical Director of Turning Point and Director of Monash Addiction Research Centre, at Monash University, Professor Dan Lubman AM spoke at the RANZCP 2021 Congress on the power of using real stories to change our conversations around addiction. 

‘Addiction is something we don’t like to talk about, even though most of us will be touched by it in some way – be it in our family, friendship group, workplace or sporting club’, explained Professor Lubman. 

‘There is so much misunderstanding and stigma surrounding addiction and that’s why we need to start having real conversations about what it is and how best to respond. 

‘Too often people make the mistake of believing that addiction is simply about poor choices or a lack of willpower, that it’s some sort of moral failing, when really it needs to be treated like any other mental health disorder. 

‘Last year, I was fortunate to be involved in a ground-breaking documentary on SBS called Addicted Australia, that used the power of real stories, by following 10 courageous Australians and their families over 6 months, to open Australia’s eyes to the complexity and reality of addiction. 

With stigma and misunderstanding rife, those seeking help for addiction are faced with multiple barriers to accessing care, especially when people are fearful of being judged or blamed for their situation. 

‘It can take almost 20 years before people finally seek help, which is a tragedy, and the polar opposite of the early intervention approach that our health care system is taking for all other health disorders. 

‘Building on the success of Addicted Australia, we have launched the Rethink Addiction campaign to change the conversation about addiction and tackle the stigma and misinformation that stops people getting the help they need.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an unprecedented surge in alcohol sales and reported drinking, with more than one third of people reporting concerns about their own drinking habits. 

‘The campaign has already attracted over 40 partners, including the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’, added Professor Lubman. 

‘My hope is, that by encouraging these conversations, our governments will begin to listen and work with us to build the support systems, networks, services and workforce needed to support and care for those experiencing addiction. 

‘Until we change our understanding of addiction, and its complexity, people will continue to suffer unnecessarily. 

‘It’s time for people’s stories to be told, heard and acknowledged. 

To learn more about the Rethink Addiction campaign, visit, and consider signing the petition or sharing your story. 

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website. 

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email