Addiction Rehabilitation

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Initiative Title: Addiction Rehabilitation
Category: Residential Services Initiatives


Future of Manly Hospital Site – Addiction Rehabilitation

Most people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to various substances (like drugs, smoking, alcohol, eating disorders) and habits (like gambling, pornography, technology – gaming). It is often mistakenly assumed that those addicted lack certain moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using addictive substances and engaging in addictive habits by simply choosing to change their behaviour.  This could not be any further from the truth.  It’s not that easy!  In reality, all are complex diseases, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will.   Because drugs change the brain in ways that foster feelings of well-being, it also changes the neurons in the brain towards more and more compulsiveness – leading to addiction.  Quitting is difficult, even for those who have already stopped. Similarly, those with addictive habits behave this way primarily because their brain operates quite differently. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs and addictive habits work in and on the brain more so than ever before. We also know that addictions can be successfully treated and, with help, how ordinary people with an addiction can stop and lead normal productive lives.


According to NSW Health and the Australian Health Tracking service, the Northern Beaches community is generally healthy. However there are areas where serious gaps exist in our general well-being and preventive health measures:-

  1. Alcohol and excessive drinking
  2. Smoking
  3. Obesity, overweight and eating disorders
  4. Drug Addiction

Most of the above are what are referred to as “self-inflicted” social problems that are self-preventable, self-correctable and self-controllable. Associated with all “self-inflicted” big hard social problem is an even bigger social challenge – the need to bring about an associated mindset shift in social attitudes and individual behaviours. This is what makes their eradication so difficult.

According to the 6 May’17 Manly Daily article (by Cross and Matijevic), the worst of these afflictions across Northern Beaches is “Drinking”. More than 1 in 5 of us consume more than two standard drinks a day (at higher levels than the national and state averages). “Our danger suburbs are Bayview, Elanora Heights and Mona Vale, where 25% of those aged 15 and over indulge in alcohol too much. The national average is 16%. Avalon, Palm Beach Newport and Bilgola are our second biggest consumers of alcohol, while Manly ranks 3rd.”

Northern Beaches performed better in terms of child and adult obesity, diabetes and smoking, as the local statistics highlighted that the other main problem areas were associated with being overweight, obese, eating disorders and their affiliation with our high level of type 2 diabetes. For example, 23% of our children aged 2 – 17 and 60% of the adult population (18 & above) are overweight. The Australian national average is a staggering 63.5%.


The more important question to consider is “Where do our Community Members (who have these problems) go and who do they turn to?” Given over 20% of our Northern Beaches population are inflicted with such serious health problems, there is insufficient health care support across our community to deal with this epidemic. There is clearly a major gap in our current array of available health care facilities across the broader Manly Community. Hence the reason why our Community places such a high priority for Addiction Rehabilitation and having a facility available to deal with this broad range of self-inflicted social problems. Problems which, if not addressed early, increase an individual’s risk of having a stroke, heart attack or contacting cancer – our greatest killers. Also many addictions are so powerful that house break-ins, assault, theft also tends to increase. Hence the reason why one of the Manly Community preferences for our Manly Community Hospital site is to make facilities available to address these major health problems.

Addiction (Drinking) Rehabilitation

An excellent example of the style of drinking rehabilitation facility that could be established on the Manly Hospital site is that developed by a famous Austrian Franz Xaver Mayr.  

Franz Mayr believed the root of all mental health issues (like alcoholism) lay in the gut.  The latest research into our microbiome shows how changing your diet can affect the way we feel.   Some refer to the “gut” as “our second brain”.   Through good gut health, where much of the body’s serotonin and dopamine is produced, it is possible for a person to tackle everything from depression, anxiety to addictions (especially the big one – alcoholism).

The Austrian clinic uses the Mayr method in dealing with addictions, such as alcoholism.  Many Australian have travelled to Austria to attend this clinic for good digestion, irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety and for addressing drinking addiction issues.  The Vivamayr is like rehab in the sense that you spend around 6 days at the clinic with specialist doctors in detoxing and having specialists examine your dopamine receptors around your current diet and addiction habits.   For example, most with an alcohol problem typically turn to alcohol to cut their brain off.  The aim is to find out why we eat and drink too much, even though we know it is hurting us.  It’s primarily because it gives us pleasure, which becomes a habit.  But mostly it’s about dopamine.    

Too much dopamine means the receptors are over-stimulated and less effective, so you need more.  The clinic aims to stop these cravings by not allowing patients to start and then to manage the cravings. In addition to diet control, massages, yoga, peaceful walks and other proven techniques are woven into a program that encourages serotonin production – a virtuous circle of habit changes. The approach can be life-changing.   The program is continued after you leave the clinic as patients become more mindful of their new habits, like “urge surfing”.  This tool is designed to better managing craving feelings before returning to what you know to be your bad habits by allowing time for that craving feeling to pass.  For example, before having that first glass of red wine and agreeing to stop then!  While it’s well known that once a person becomes “an alcoholic” the only cure is total abstinence.  Less than 4% of diagnosed alcoholics are ever able to drink alcohol again.    However, most with a drinking problem are not alcoholics, it’s simply that they do not know how when to stop and when enough is enough.  They become mindful drinkers by adopting techniques such as drinking water with their wine, sipping rather than guzzling and knowing who are the best type of people for them to drink with and who aren’t (especially drinking alone).    

When is a person addicted to a substance like alcohol, tobacco or a behavioural issue (like gambling, pornography, technology, etc), often some form of professional or specialised help is required?   Again take the example of a social drinker of alcohol, who drinks within the standard guideline – he/she can take or leave their drinking.  Such people would not be regarded as being addicted to alcohol or being an alcoholic.  For a person who has been smoking for many years, it is most likely that they have become addicted to nicotine because the substance being consumed is highly addictive and over their period of consumption it has changed the way the neurons of their brain operate.   Such addictions often do require some form of professional help (medicinal) and support from others to shake such their habit.  Self-help typically doesn’t work alone unless they are capable of going “cold turkey”, which most aren’t.   According to AA, less than 4% of people who are alcoholics are capable of ever being able to shake this addiction and most that do go “cold turkey”. This explains why there are two key initiatives associated with dealing with the various forms of addiction:-

  1. Well-being & Preventative Health care – where community supports one another (as volunteers) either at home or within the confines of the site at meetings and social gatherings (like AAA, weight/diet control and others forms of self-help) where specialist skills are available on site, like dieticians – this is another Initiative called Well-being & Preventative Health. 
  2. Addiction Rehabilitation – where temporary accommodation is provided on site within a confined environment where specialist support is available – this is another Initiative being proposed for the site

Social Implications

Drug abuse and behavioural addictions have negative consequences for ordinary people and for society. Estimates of the total overall costs of just substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately $193 billion for illicit drugs, $193 billion for tobacco, and $235 billion for alcohol. As staggering as these numbers are, they do not fully describe the breadth of destruction on public health and the safety implications of drug abuse and addiction, such as family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school/university, domestic violence, child abuse and deterioration in the addict’s own health.

The same applies to those addicted to habits such as gambling, pornography, computer games, etc. The US total cost is said to exceed a $trillion annually. And if we were to regard obesity as an addiction (i.e. a pre-occupation with food and its associated type 2 diabetes), the total would be far higher.   Any form of addiction is corrosive, because it takes control of your priorities away from you. In reality, any form of addiction be it to power, status, fame, heroin, etc., when anyone becomes greedy for more (of anything) the inflicted you convince yourself that this will bring you closer to the summit of your ambition. For the addict can never get enough. The good news is that with any addict embracing a mindset shift, accepting specialist treatment and with social support their addiction can stop and they can return to making worthwhile contributions to society.


To read more on the various forms of addiction, go to the following links (to other part of this website):-



Contact Name: Darryl Dobe
Contact Email Address:
Start Date: 20-Jun-2017
End Date: 21-Dec-2018
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  1. Darryl Dobe   

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