Reframe of Mind

Episode 14: Mental Health and Addiction

Feat. Professor Maree Teesson AC, Matilda Centre Director

Professor Maree Teesson AC, Matilda Centre Director

Reframe of Mind contains discussion around mental health that may be disturbing to some listeners. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, please seek professional individual advice. 

Some of the main crisis lines in Australia are listed on our Mental Health Crisis Resources page, including those that operate 24/7 like Beyond Blue and Lifeline.

It’s one thing to be able to reframe a rainy day, but what if the issue is deeper than that? Could the research in drug and alcohol addictions be applied to other areas of mental health as well? 

It’s a pretty common situation – Have a stressful day at work, reach for a glass of wine at night – but when does that ‘solution’ contribute to an even bigger problem, and are there techniques to treat the cause underneath it all, instead of using alcohol to self-soothe the symptoms?

Alcohol consumption is very deeply entrenched in Australian culture, and for some, exposure starts at an early age. Having a drink is normalised behaviour associated with everyday social events, but substances like alcohol, drugs and even sugar can have greater negative impacts on our lives. Stepping away from these habits takes a different, focused approach, in which one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

In this episode of Reframe of Mind, Louise and Andy’s mental health journey includes a conversation with Professor Maree Teesson AC, Director of the Matilda Centre, to explore the nature of addiction, the research that is leading to techniques that help teenagers form a healthy relationship to alcohol consumption, and how some of these techniques might help us in combating other issues that challenge us on a mental level.

You can connect with The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use on social media directly below:

You can connect with Professor Maree Teesson AC on social media directly below:

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Guests this episode:

Professor Maree Teesson AC

Director, Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use


Show Notes:

Here’s some extra things you might not know about Maree, as well as some of the things mentioned during the episode.

Professor Maree Teesson AC

Professor Maree Teesson AC is Director of the Matilda Centre, Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use, and an NHMRC Leadership Fellow at the University of Sydney.  She is a Former National Mental Health Commissioner, an Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences Fellow, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences and is the Chair of Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank. She was announced as a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2018 Honours List, awarded a Westpac/Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence for Innovation, and awarded an Australian Museum Eureka Prize as Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.

Maree has made a major contribution to Australia’s health and medical research effort in the field of mental health and substance use. In particular, she is known nationally and internationally for her research on the comorbidity between mental health and substance use disorders.

The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use is a multidisciplinary research centre committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people affected by co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. It was established in 2018, and aims to generate innovative and workable solutions to address substance use and mental disorders, which are currently the leading global causes of burden and disease in young people.


“Drugs and Alcohol: what you need to know”





For more resources on Mental Health check out the Matilda Centre website

Watch a Matilda Centre playlist of short explainers on mental health, comorbidities, substance use and more:

Watch a conversation from University of Sydney mental health experts, moderated by Maree, about young people and mental health:

During the interview Maree spoke about the Cracks in the Ice program. There are many tool kits available online and downloadable booklets on their website.

Here is a playlist of webinars from the program:


Read along with the Youtube episode here: 

Transcript has been auto-generated and may contain errors. Your support on our patreon would go towards being able to provide a human-edited transcript for accessibility.


00:00:00 Andy

Talking today to Professor Maree Teesson AC, director at the Matilda Centre, University of Sydney.

00:00:05 Andy

Marie welcome and thank you for your time today.

00:00:07 Andy

We really appreciate having you on board.

00:00:09 Maree

Absolute pleasure.

00:00:10 Andy

We’ve got so much that we could talk about and explore today you’ve got a real depth and breadth of knowledge around addiction and substance abuse, and all of the things that are connected to that, and I don’t know if I’m starting off gently here or opening up a can of worms from the start, but I want to start by exploring everyday addictions and how they can creep in through socially acceptable, addictive substances. So, I’m thinking here about alcohol, for example, even the habit of just slipping into the local cafe every day for a daily dose of caffeine.

00:00:37 Andy

How inevitable is it that we’re all going to get addicted to something at some point in our lives?

00:00:40 Maree

It’s a fascinating question, and it’s one that has really driven me to do research in this area over quite a lot of years and I wish I had a really simple answer for that, because you know, if you knew beforehand that drinking alcohol, you might get into trouble with it, then maybe you’d be a bit more wary.

00:01:04 Maree

It’s not a simple answer, but that said there are things that leave some people more vulnerable to having problems with substances like alcohol and drugs.

So that’s one of the really important things that we do in our research. Try and work out what leads people to be more vulnerable to have problems with these alcohol and drugs.

00:01:22 Andy

It really does seem that society is at some point really using a lot of peer pressure. In some instances, I I’m thinking for example, if I go out to dinner with some friends and I choose not to have an alcoholic beverage. The questions really come around:

00:01:37 Andy

Why aren’t you drinking, or won’t you just have a small one? That type of thing. So, it’s the sort of thing that we need to kind of start to look at as a society.

00:01:44 Maree

Yeah, you know, problems with alcohol and drugs, the health problems and unfortunately, particularly around alcohol. We do have a strong culture in Australia of linking alcohol continuously with sport or linking having a good time as only being possible if you’re drinking alcohol and it’s just not true.

00:02:06 Maree

And then of course, when people do run into problems with alcohol, there’s a sense of shame and stigma associated with that, and it’s just devastating.

We see for people who have problems with alcohol, it can take up to 18 years before they’ll talk to anyone about those problems. That can mean they can start to have problems when they’re 18 or 19, and they really wait until their mid 30s before they say to a GP, or to a friend: Hey, I think this is really interfering with my life and maybe I need to do something about this.

But that can take 18 years. So, the stigma, and you know there’s a positive side about the fun and people do often drink because there’s a fun aspect to it, but there can also be the negative side.

00:02:51 Andy

Louise and I were talking this morning as well about different contexts in which drinking occurs, and this this 18-year period before somebody reaches out for some help. Is it that they’ve actually just realized that they have a problem or have known for some time that they’ve got a problem? When does that consciousness around that problem start creeping in?

00:03:11 Maree

Creep in, yeah, we have asked people, you know. We’ve said to them oh gosh, you’ve been having problems since you were 18 or 19.

Why was it that you only first reached out in your late 30s and we find two or three different reasons that people talk about one is that they actually didn’t think that there was anything that anyone could do to help them. And that’s a real shame because we do have incredibly effective ways of helping people. The other is that they just felt incredible shame that they should be able to deal with this themselves that everyone else around them was drinking and not having problems.

And of course, that’s a bit of a catch because you don’t know whether your friends are actually having problems or not, so it was that stigma and shame around it.

And lastly, this can really catch it. It’s insidious.

It’s not like one day you wake up and you’re suddenly having a problem. It’s lots and lots of little things accumulating.

It’s not turning up to work because you’re drinking too much.

It’s having a hangover because you’re drinking too much.

It’s feeling like you need to drink more in order to get the same effect.

It’s realizing that you might have been having a problem with the police. That you’ve been caught a couple of times where you’re over the limit. It’s an accumulative thing that can catch people up.

00:04:39 Louise

Back to the idea of shame when it comes to getting help, I suppose for anything like it applies so much, not just even in addiction like drug and alcohol, but even just for mental health in general.

Like actually being able to take that pressure off ourselves and ask for help, I wonder if what would help people to understand is that it’s not a case of when someone says, ‘oh just don’t drink anymore, just don’t smoke anymore, just don’t’. It’s not that easy like there’s physiological things that are going on in the body that are propelling us forward to keep making those decisions, aren’t there?

00:05:10 Maree

Yeah, and we often have this sense that it’s just that you don’t have enough willpower. That if you had enough willpower, if you were strong enough you pull your socks up, then you solve the problems.

And as you said, it just isn’t that simple.

It’s still the case that you can find ways to help, and it’s not that it’s impossible, but it isn’t a simple case of just pull your socks up.

00:05:32 Louise

How do we destigmatize asking for help?

00:05:34 Maree

It’s a really important question. And I think actually having this conversation with you is an incredibly positive way to do that.

I think also that we need to start early to start understanding both the positives and the negatives associated with drug and alcohol use from an early age.

We talked a bit about the fact that drinking alcohol is so positively associated with sports and Australian’s going out. And so, when you’re younger when you’re 13,14 or 15 just before you’re about to start drinking, the message that you can have is incredibly positive, and I think it’s much more important that we give a realistic message and we make sure we don’t normalize, particularly in adolescence drinking.

00:06:25 Louise

I think the stuff with the 18-year data. I mean that hits really close to home.

Me and my experience not with alcohol in as a form of self-medication, but you know, I’d say you know my entire life gone through periods of experiencing anxiety disorders and sometimes mood disorders.

And then when I look at the stats that one in nine Australians experience anxiety disorders or 6% of us experience mood disorders each year like depression, or something like that.

I think it has taken me 18 years to stand up and ask for help.

00:06:55 Maree

Yeah, and the stigma, the stigma issues around depression. Australia has done an amazing job at reducing that stigma for depression and anxiety, and so we do now see that we’ve got increased numbers of people who are feeling confident or not feeling a stigmatized to ask for help for depression and anxiety.

But we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to asking for help around.

You know alcohol and cannabis and drug problems. I think you’re right. The fact that we have seen such amazing changes with depression and anxiety gives us some hope around alcohol and drugs and even seeing them as health problems rather than just seeing them as either a lifestyle choice or a lack of willpower.

00:07:43 Louise

It’s one of those reasons that I now talk so openly about medication now. And in the last 18 years I would have said ‘Oh no. I should be able to think my way out of a problem like that.’

It’s all in my head or that kind of similar feeling of weakness and shame like I shouldn’t feel like that nobody else feels like that, but now I’m very happy to talk with people openly in conversation about, well, you know, sometimes medications OK, because it helps you get that breathing room to work on things and to change that way that you feel.

So, I suppose to kind of bring that back around to alcohol and the other things that we get addicted to, how do we encourage people to stand up and ask for help?

I mean I can only imagine what someone who has a problem with alcohol or drugs goes through where it noticeably affects their life. cause you can kind of hide with anxiety.

00:08:35 Maree

Yes, yeah, and it’s a lot more difficult to hide with when you when you’re having the consequences of exactly what you just said. then it was a really interesting because we do get caught up in the shoulds and as you were talking then I was thinking yeah people feel like they should be able to get better or it shouldn’t be like.

00:08:55 Maree

This and part of the responding and treatment for alcohol use disorder.

00:09:00 Maree

Others and for drug use disorders is around helping us to see our way through those mind traps cause.

00:09:06 Maree

And I’m a big one for that as well.

00:09:07 Maree

I’m always telling myself I should do this.

00:09:09 Maree

Or I shouldn’t do that and I.

00:09:12 Maree

Have to reframe it as well.

00:09:14 Maree

That’s the way it is or shouldn’t help me because there’s.

00:09:16 Louise

No sure is so unhelpful.

00:09:19 Maree

I tried to ban myself saying should, but they are real skills to learn and just reflecting on.

00:09:26 Maree

That made me think about this.

00:09:28 Maree

Should word in my own life, but they’re real skills to learn about how you can get caught in those traps.

00:09:33 Maree

And then it becomes a vicious cycle and a real skill around therapy is breaking into those vicious cycles of thinking so that people can see a way through it and a way to act in a different way or a different way of coping with life rather than I should be able to cope.

00:09:50 Maree

I didn’t.

00:09:51 Maree

Therefore, I’m gonna drink, and it’s so powerful.

00:09:54 Maree

So powerful.

00:09:55 Maree

So yeah, just listening then.

00:09:57 Maree

Now how do we break down?

00:10:00 Maree

We have had the most amazing success at the moment in breaking down those stigmas and those stigma issues.

00:10:07 Maree

By working with people by working with people who have experienced these problems and understanding where they’re coming from, that’s the first part that we’ve.

00:10:17 Maree

We’ve really learned a lot, and it’s really being in the present of understanding what the barriers are for them, and stigma can be broken down into both having self-stigma.

00:10:27 Maree

So, a real shame coming from yourself and you’re feeling like you should be able to do it better.

00:10:33 Maree

And it can also come externally.

00:10:35 Maree

So, the unfortunately.

00:10:38 Maree

The judgment that happens for others, and so thinking about that self-stigma in particular.

00:10:44 Maree

We’ve worked a lot with using digital storyboards and digital portals and websites to make it as easy as possible for people to get information and evidence based and trusted information.

00:10:57 Maree

So then they can.

00:10:58 Maree

Start to engage with what the issues are.

00:11:01 Maree

And making sure we have that as trusted evidence based and has non stigmatizing both that personal stigma as well as that societal stigma as possible.

00:11:12 Maree

And that’s been incredible to see the uptake, you know.

00:11:15 Maree

Even in areas where there’s addiction to methamphetamine or where there’s problems with methamphetamine.

00:11:21 Maree

We had hundreds of thousands of people logging in, clicking in getting information, and then using that.

00:11:27 Maree

Actually, that knowledge has really broken down the stigma that they felt to ask for help and the stigma that they felt for family members asking for help as.

00:11:37 Andy

Well, I wonder as a part of all of that judgment and self-stigmatizing

00:11:41 Andy

That’s going on how important anonymity is in being able to reach out for help, because I imagine with some of the complexities that go on with substance abuse, there might also be a fear there that they’ll get in trouble by the law for possessing the things that they’re taking.

00:11:53 Maree

Yes, yes, and that anonymity and that ability to reach out with that anonymity particular.

00:12:00 Maree

In the first instance is incredibly important.

00:12:02 Maree

Now I think that is where there is incredible power about making some of those first connections through mediums like digital mediums.

00:12:10 Maree

So, I just really encourage people.

00:12:12 Maree

There are evidence-based sources of information and it’s reaching out to those you know our websites.

00:12:20 Maree

Called cracks in the ice, for example, for methamphetamine, it’s reaching out for those and going to those trusted evidence-based resources because there is a lot of stigma.

00:12:30 Maree

We also talked a lot about the impact on families.

00:12:33 Maree

And families really needing that sense of being a safe haven and just holding things together for people while the chaos of the storm of the drug use happens, and so it’s also for families to be able to reach out and to get that information in the first instance in a way that’s anonymous and non-judgmental.

00:12:53 Louise

Do you think?

00:12:53 Louise

As humans, we’re predisposed to addictions.

00:12:56 Maree

Wow, that’s a really big question.

00:13:01 Louise

We’re addicted to getting addictions.

00:13:04 Maree

Well, you know we do like yeah, it’s a big question and as humans are we free disposed to that you know we have thought about this a lot, particularly amongst adolescents, and we haven’t thought about it, as are you predisposed to getting an addiction?

00:13:23 Maree

But we’ve thought water.

00:13:25 Maree

Some of the risk factors that might mean that you might be more likely to have some challenges, and I don’t want to go down too much of a rabbit hole here.


Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

00:13:36 Andy

She got all the time in the world.

00:13:38 Maree

I think one of the like I’m a parent of teenagers and some of the work that we’ve been doing is trying to understand, you know how teenagers see the world and we’ve been framing it in terms of four different personality or ways that teenagers see the world.

00:13:57 Maree

One of them is.

00:13:58 Maree

Being quite anxious and nervous and we’ve talked about anxiety and depression being related to, you know substance use before but.

00:14:06 Maree

One way, and you sort of know those kids.

00:14:08 Maree

They’re shy and they’re a bit reserved.

00:14:10 Maree

I was one of those kids when I was younger.

00:14:12 Maree

Quite shy, quite reserved.

00:14:14 Maree

This second group of kids who are more prone to seeing the world as a little bit in a negative way now.

00:14:23 Maree

I tend to think about one way of thinking about this is.

00:14:26 Maree

Harry Potter figures in Harry Potter.

00:14:29 Maree

So, for me, you’ve got the shyness and the awkwardness in Hermione.

00:14:35 Maree

You’ve got that sort of more negative thinking, more seeing, the doom and gloom in the world.

00:14:40 Maree

If you think about Ron Weasley.

00:14:44 Maree

And of course, it runs in the Harry Potter series, the third set in the triumphant is Harry and Harry said, go get a.

00:14:53 Maree

He’s a sensation seeker and that’s the third group of ways of thinking about teenagers and the 4th group is more the impulsive kids.

00:15:04 Maree

And I think Voldemort or Tom Riddle is the most impulsive kid.

00:15:08 Maree

You can imagine.

00:15:09 Maree

So, when I talk to the parents of teenagers you know they.

00:15:13 Maree

This resonates with them, and they go, gosh, you did.

00:15:16 Maree

20 years of research to work this out.

00:15:18 Maree

But yeah, you can really think about kids in terms of those predominantly the kids who are sensation seeking like Harry, the kids that are impulsive like Voldemort, the kids who are warriors like Ron and the kids who are anxious like Hermione.

00:15:33 Maree

So, you know where am I going with this with alcohol and with drugs?

00:15:37 Maree

Well, it’s.

00:15:38 Maree

Fascinating, but of those character.

00:15:40 Maree

Sticks we are able to pick up the kids who have those characteristics and then also predict later on in life which of those characteristics lead to which sorts of problems they might have with alcohol.

00:15:54 Maree

And it’s those impulsive and sensation seeking kids that can have problems in terms of binge drinking with alcohol.

00:16:00 Maree

And again, it gets down to.

00:16:02 Maree

They’ll have hot thoughts.

00:16:03 Maree

They’ll have intense thoughts about their emotions, and one way of dealing with those intense thoughts is to drink alcohol.

00:16:11 Maree

For the anxious kids and for the depressed kids, they can find themselves if they’ve got those trays running into problems with alcohol because they drink to cope, they drink to cope with the alcohol they drink to cope with the feeling of negativity.

00:16:25 Maree

So, what does that mean for the research that we do?

00:16:28 Maree

If we’ve been able to observe this and think?

00:16:31 Maree

About they’re not addictive personalities, but their trays that lead people to be more vulnerable to have problems.

00:16:37 Maree

So, can you get in and intervene with those trays?

00:16:40 Maree

Give kids other ways of coping and young people, other ways of coping, and if you do, does that mean they’re less likely to use alcohol as the solution when they turn 18?

00:16:51 Maree

If you work with kids who are 13, you can identify these things.

00:16:55 Maree

Can we give them some different skills and in.

00:16:57 Maree

Doing that, would that change their course?

00:17:00 Maree

Or the.

00:17:01 Maree

So that’s the type of research questions we’ve been asking, and we’ve just finished an amazing seven-year follow-up of 2000 young people where we went in, and we did two really simple, quick 90-minute sessions with them to help them to 1st identify where they fit. Are they sensation?

00:17:20 Maree

Speakers are they mourn towards negative thinking.

00:17:23 Maree

Are they more towards anxious?

00:17:25 Maree

Are they more impulsive and then giving them some skills and we found at the end of seven years you could actually change the trajectory of where they were.

00:17:32 Maree

So, it’s so powerful.

00:17:34 Maree

Adolescents are absolute learning machines.

00:17:37 Maree

And the thing we need to do is work with them to work out ways to give them more positive ways of coping with the world than alcohol or drugs.

00:17:46 Maree

And I just love this research because it can change the trajectory of life for people.

00:17:51 Maree

It’s amazing.

00:17:52 Andy

I wonder, looking at the research that you’re doing and what you’ve uncovered here with those trays, is it likely or possible?

00:17:57 Andy

For example, to be able to use some of these insights to build healthy habits.

00:18:01 Maree

Absolutely, absolutely and.

00:18:04 Maree

A powerful thing and a powerful driving force for young people is wanting to be like your peers and we call this a social influence theory.

00:18:14 Maree

It’s the theory around the at the influence of your peers and influence of what you consider to be normative behavior.

00:18:21 Maree

So, if I can give you an example if you ask.

00:18:24 Maree


00:18:25 Maree

How many of their friends?

00:18:26 Maree

Drink, they’ll tell you close to 60 or 70% of their friends drink and it’s nowhere near that many.

00:18:32 Maree

It’s much, much, much lower. It’s like 5% so, but even challenging that belief can then influence Oh well, to be like my peers is not to drink to be my like my peers to be like.

00:18:46 Maree

My peers, they’re thinking they have to drink, but really, to be like their peers, what they do is not drink.

00:18:52 Maree

So using that and presenting that information, particularly in a peer LED way peer to peer, is incredibly powerful, and that can also.

00:19:00 Maree

So, work not just for alcohol, but healthy behaviors like exercise, healthy behaviors like increasing his sleep.

00:19:09 Maree

We talk about them as the big six risk factors for poor health in adolescents.

00:19:13 Maree

So, alcohol, tobacco sleep, sugar intake, physical activity.

00:19:20 Maree

And screen time and they are big six risk factors for poor health in adolescents.

00:19:26 Maree

And yep, you can switch it around knowing this information to actually increase healthy behaviors, not just decrease.

00:19:33 Andy

I’m really interested that you actually included sugar as a part of the Big Six.

00:19:37 Andy

It’s something that we don’t often think about as far as addiction goes.

00:19:40 Maree

Yeah, so the sugar and you know in terms of a risk factor for poor health and sugar intake, is absolutely one of the big six.

00:19:50 Louise

I turn 40 next month.

00:19:52 Louise

Marie happy birthday to me.

00:19:54 Maree

Yeah, happy birthday.

00:19:56 Louise

I don’t.

00:19:57 Louise

I think I’m identifying as a Hermione.

00:19:59 Louise

Is it too late for me now if I don’t have a nice fresh teenage?

00:20:04 Louise

Brain with all of its extra neurons and I’m setting my routine pathways.

00:20:09 Maree

Oh, my golly never too late never too late and you know it’s not as easy as when you’re 13 and 14 or 15 but we sort of know that don’t we?

00:20:20 Maree

We know that with most things in life, it’s a lot easier to do it when you’re 1314 or 15.

00:20:26 Maree

But it is absolutely never too late to turn it around and to create what we’re talking about here is creating positive coping mechanisms rather than relying on what can be short term.

00:20:39 Maree

You know it does make you feel better when you’ve had a drink, but the problem is that that quickly shifts.

00:20:45 Maree

From being a short-term positive to a long term, not positive.

00:20:50 Louise

One of the things I used to, I mean I hardly have a drink now, but I would say that you know, in my early 20s I was probably part of Australia as binge drinking culture.

00:20:59 Louise

Problem Yep, but at one point I think the switch flipped and I realized that after a few drinks like it feels good to have a few drinks at first and then once you kind of lose control of those inhibitions, I mean you lose control, so you no longer have control.

00:21:14 Louise

Also, of the way you feel so you can go really quickly from this is the best night of my life.

00:21:18 Louise

For crying in a gutter on the side of the road because you are just suddenly really down, and everything is horrible, and I started to think that part is not worth it like that feeling of no longer having the ability to talk yourself out of feeling like that because your senses are so impaired is no longer worth it.

00:21:36 Maree

Yeah, and I think people tend to forget that alcohol it is actually a depressant.

00:21:42 Maree

It does depress your mood, so you do get that initial lack of inhibition.

00:21:47 Maree

But yeah, absolutely.

00:21:49 Maree

You then forget that alcohol is actually a depressant, so you do have that sense of the chemical impact.

00:21:57 Maree

Of having our call in your brain is.

00:21:59 Maree

Really raising those emotions of feeling sad and not feeling in control.

00:22:04 Louise

So, should we give it up or should we replace it with something else?

00:22:07 Louise

I mean where is that line like where we say someone got a problem with alcohol?

00:22:11 Louise

Is it 1 glass at night?

00:22:12 Louise

Is it a bottle of night?

00:22:13 Maree

Yeah, there’s amazing work in Australia in this area, and if you’re wanting to set your expectations of not having harm to your health from alcohol, then you know the guidelines are quite low in terms of how much alcohol you should be drinking.

00:22:30 Maree

And we set the NHMRC guidelines quite low for how little alcohol you should be drinking before you start to impact on your health.

00:22:41 Maree

I’m I mean, one big area we’ve been working on is the area of drinking during pregnancy and in the past did it was thought that even having just a glass of alcohol and unfortunately.

00:22:55 Maree

Sometimes women were even encouraged to have it to calm down during pregnancy, but recent research that we’ve done has shown that even small amounts of alcohol, even as low as three.

00:23:06 Maree

4 glasses of alcohol during a pregnancy, particularly early on in pregnancy can result for young children when they’re after they’re born.

00:23:16 Maree

When they’ve turning 9 or 10, we’ve done the follow up studies.

00:23:20 Maree

They can be more likely to have anxiety and depression and have health problems.

00:23:26 Maree

If their mother drank during pregnancy and it can alter the way that our brain develops to leave us more vulnerable to having problems later on.

00:23:36 Maree

So, it’s quite low.

00:23:38 Maree

And I think it’s probably the most important thing is resetting the expectations.

00:23:43 Maree

The expectation?

00:23:45 Maree

I think in Australia is much higher levels of alcohol.

00:23:48 Maree

It’s OK to drink, but I think what’s probably the most important thing we need to do is to reset those expectations so that we have a culture where we’ve got.

00:23:59 Maree

Less drinking.

00:24:00 Maree

And even know drinking is acceptable.

00:24:03 Louise

Now that I rarely drink, I don’t care anymore.

00:24:05 Louise

Marie, though like it would have mattered to 20-year-old me.

00:24:08 Louise

But 39-year-old me just I don’t. I don’t care. I don’t need. I don’t need it. It doesn’t help me feel any better. I feel worse the next day.

00:24:17 Maree

Yeah, yeah.

00:24:19 Maree

And I’m not sure that’s always the case that you have to wait till you.

00:24:22 Maree

You get there.

00:24:23 Maree

Don’t think there are.

00:24:24 Maree

Some 20-year-old to feel that way too.


Would have been.

00:24:27 Louise

And better instead of crying in the gutter outside of Canberra nightclub at like 19, that would have been a better choice to make then.

00:24:34 Maree

Yeah, yeah.

00:24:36 Maree

It’s a really hard thing, though, isn’t it?

00:24:39 Maree

When it’s so much part of our culture and it’s a very hard thing to say to young people that you know no more than 10 a week and four on any day is what we’re talking about.

00:24:49 Maree

If you don’t want to have harms from alcohol.

00:24:51 Andy

It always kind of seems like these hepatitis AD in through the back door. I mean I remember myself when I was in my 20s going out with some work chums and we had somebody in our group.

00:25:00 Andy

That didn’t drink and the questions were all around.

00:25:02 Andy

I’ll come on my might hurt you, that kind of thing, and she had up to that point of her life never even thought about drinking alcohol because it was a part of the culture not to think about alcohol that way.

00:25:10 Andy

I wonder if we maybe need to start swinging around with younger people and teaching them things like self-esteem and how to say no and how to actually strengthen themselves against those social norms.

00:25:20 Maree

Yeah, yeah absolutely.

00:25:23 Maree

You touched on two things there that I thought might be like interesting to talk about as we were in that question, one was teaching young people about how to say no in an assertive way, and we’ve certainly been doing that.

00:25:36 Maree

Through blending those methods with the amazing ancient art of cartoons and storyboards, so we’ve created cartoons and storyboards which I like.

00:25:47 Maree

Love stories between different characters that we’ve worked with young people to develop, and it’s Michael meet Jane or Michael meets Claire or.

00:25:56 Maree

Claire meets Claire and in that their relationship and friendships.

00:26:00 Maree

Build and we talk about how people can have incredibly positive relationships and friendships without the use of alcohol or how alcohol can get in the way of kids playing sport or how you can actually have fun or drink drug refusal skills.

00:26:13 Maree

How do you refuse?

00:26:14 Maree

You know that if you’ve got someone who’s saying to you have a glass, how do you make sure you’ve always got something in your glass so that there’s no?

00:26:20 Maree

Point them, thank you.

00:26:21 Maree

Haven’t got anything in your glass and it would get you now.

00:26:23 Maree

Call, you’ve already got something.

00:26:24 Andy

I’ve learned very quickly to put my hand over the glass, yeah?

00:26:26 Maree

You got your

00:26:27 Maree

Hand over the top all of those incredible skills are or Yep or affirm.

00:26:29 Andy

That’s it, should firm no.

00:26:32 Maree

No, absolutely, but it takes skill to say a firm no in that sort of.

00:26:36 Andy

Oh no, the hand over the glasses my.

00:26:38 Andy

Firm no, I’m very passive.

00:26:40 Maree

Love it, love it.

00:26:42 Maree

So, but they are skills, aren’t they?

00:26:45 Maree

That we don’t get torts, so I’m all for how do we do that?

00:26:46 Andy

Yeah, for sure.

00:26:48 Maree

How do we teach those skills?

00:26:49 Maree

As parents, we need to teach them.

00:26:51 Maree

Parents are incredible influences of young people.

00:26:54 Maree

It’s not just their peers how to peer to peer.

00:26:57 Maree

We teach kids to do that.

00:26:58 Maree

That’s your right to say, no.

00:27:00 Maree

I love the fact that we’ve, you know, the click clack wearing their seatbelts campaign.

00:27:05 Maree

That was a big public health campaign in Australia, and they first started by teaching the parents.

00:27:10 Maree

To say you know you should be putting the seat belts on your kids.

00:27:13 Maree

And that worked to a certain extent, but what was the most powerful was telling the kids that was their human right to have their seatbelts.

00:27:20 Maree

So, in the back of the cards the kids were saying to their parents, it’s my human right for you to put my seat belt on, do it and giving them the power to do it.

00:27:29 Maree

Change our compliance with seat belt wearing.

00:27:31 Maree

It was incredible, so I’m for giving the kids there.

00:27:34 Maree

Skills definitely, and the second bit was women.

00:27:37 Maree

We’ve sort of touched on this a little bit.

00:27:39 Maree

I don’t know about you guys.

00:27:40 Maree

I’m over 50 so I remember going down for thank you, thanks.

00:27:42 Louise

Happy birthday

00:27:44 Andy

Happy birthday


Ha ha.

00:27:46 Maree

I remember going to Tasmania in the early 80s and going into a bar to have a beverage after being on a long walk and being ushered into the ladies lounge.

00:27:59 Maree

I was not allowed to have a drink in the lounge at the front of the pub ’cause there was a ladies lounge and that relationship between women and alcohol in our country and around the world has changed dramatically.

00:28:11 Maree

’cause if I went down there today, I wouldn’t be ushered over into a separate spot.

00:28:16 Maree

Drinking wouldn’t have been seen as taboo and stigma.

00:28:19 Maree

For a woman, if I go down there today, I can.

00:28:21 Maree

Drink and I’ll be in the front power.

00:28:23 Maree

I don’t have to go into the back where I’m stigmatized so drinking for women has actually been a lot more.

00:28:30 Maree

It’s now a lot more normative, and because of that, we’re actually seeing increasing rates of problems for alcohol in women.

00:28:39 Maree

And it’s really sad, so I’m trust me.

00:28:41 Maree

I am 100% for women rights and I’m 100% for equality, but we’ve also unfortunately for women.

00:28:49 Maree

Now seeing similar rates of problems for young women, particularly around the harms from alcohol.

00:28:56 Andy

It almost sounds like an exclusive club, doesn’t it?

00:28:58 Andy

The Ladies lounge, but.

00:28:59 Maree

Ladies Lounge I know no, but it wasn’t it was it was it was an exclusive club you weren’t allowed to be seen drinking at the.

00:29:01 Andy

It had the opposite of faith.

00:29:03 Louise

And exclusive club.

00:29:08 Maree

Front of the hotel.

00:29:08 Andy

I’m fascinated by this, so you know now we can talk about it because the ladies loungers don’t really exist anymore, but with the alcoholic beverages different to the meant area where they are softer.

00:29:18 Maree

Yeah, they weren’t softer, they were, they were.


Not in this.

00:29:25 Maree

Not in this stuff in Tasmania they went solid.

00:29:31 Maree

No, it’s a good question, but no, they’re not softer.

00:29:34 Andy

I I’m just I’m picturing.

00:29:35 Andy

Ladies with shanties and Pimm’s compared to you know.

00:29:37 Maree

I think there was a lot of shanties.

00:29:39 Maree

I think there were a lot of shanties but the but the drinks on offer was certainly at this point in time in the 80s.

00:29:45 Maree

They weren’t softer, but there were a lot of shanties.


You were already there.

00:29:47 Maree

Yeah, but you know that is also a challenge about what we offer.

00:29:52 Maree

You know alcohol has changed in the types of alcoholic drinks that we have available to us.

00:29:57 Maree

So, when I was growing up, it was the bitterness.

00:30:00 Maree

Of wine.

00:30:00 Maree

It was the bitterness of beer, and that’s actually incredibly protective.

00:30:04 Maree

When you’ve got a young pallet, you don’t like, it’s hard to drink alcohol.

00:30:08 Maree

That’s wine or beer because it is quite bitter.

00:30:12 Maree

The drinks that are available now are much sweeter.

00:30:16 Maree

We’re getting back to the mix of sugar and alcohol and the complexity of having those.

00:30:20 Maree

Two things together, but the drinks that are available now are much sweeter, so they actually are much more palatable to young pal.

00:30:27 Louise

Do you think that peer to peer is kind of the antidote to peer pressure?

00:30:31 Maree

In our research, I have been amazed at the power of peer to peer.

00:30:35 Maree

It has to be mixed with the right evidence and the right information.

00:30:41 Maree

So, when we talk about peer to peer, we’ve been doing that through.

00:30:45 Maree

As I said before, cartoons and storyboards ’cause it’s a big responsibility on young people.

00:30:51 Maree

To deliver peer to peer, I mean they’re living it themselves, right?

00:30:54 Maree

They’re in the middle of it, so we’ve used the medium of cartoons because that can empower young people.

00:31:01 Maree

Our cartoons are all cartoons of young people.

00:31:03 Maree

We don’t have older people.

00:31:05 Maree

In them, but it allows young people to say the things that and teach each other, the things that they want to teach each other, without needing to feel like they’re in a classroom.

00:31:15 Maree

And they could say, well, you know.

00:31:16 Maree

Oh well, I did it.

00:31:17 Maree

So therefore, you know it’s OK for you to do it.

00:31:19 Maree

It’s quite hard to do peer to peer face to face, but we’ve used the medium of cartoons.

00:31:24 Maree

Incredibly powerful.

00:31:25 Maree

To do this.

00:31:26 Louise

Can we transfer those skills like those Peter Pier skills as an adult to make a difference in our circle of influence to help people kind of have happier, healthier mental outcomes so they don’t need to rely so much on self-medication?

00:31:41 Maree

And again, having positive ways of having fun that are not just associated with alcohol is incredibly powerful in creating the environment where people can interact with each other.

00:31:53 Maree

It’s not having so much alcohol always at parties, not having them always focused on alcohol.

00:31:59 Maree

Having events that don’t always have.

00:32:01 Maree

To have our cola at the center of them in terms of the peer-to-peer support, giving each other support in a positive way rather than oh everyone should be drinking too.

00:32:10 Maree

You know it was fantastic.

00:32:12 Maree

That you made the healthy choice not to drink at the party.

00:32:15 Maree

Whenever do we say that yeah and really, why don’t we?

00:32:19 Maree

Why don’t we say to people it was fantastic?

00:32:21 Maree

You made that positive choice in your life.

00:32:24 Maree

You know not to drink.

00:32:25 Maree

Or yeah, I it would be an amazing day that we got to that position in Australia.

00:32:30 Maree

I think it’s gonna take some time.

00:32:32 Louise

How about a workplace kind of context?

00:32:35 Louise

You know, like that kind of come along to this event that we’ve got tonight.

00:32:38 Louise

It’s optional, but it’s mandatory and when you get there, there’s a drink and you cannot drink.

00:32:44 Louise

But then you’re not a team player.

00:32:45 Louise

How do we kind of tackle that workplace culture that goes around this kind of enforced drinking socialism?

00:32:52 Maree

Yeah, again I’d like to think that you know, eventually we can get to the sophisticated space where we can actually have work events.

00:33:00 Maree

We don’t have to have alcohol associated with them, but you know, that’s a bit of a way off.

00:33:04 Maree

It’s both again individuals, so having those skills and testing it yourself like can I go to the party and not drink?

00:33:12 Maree

And still have fun.

00:33:13 Maree

And that’s a great behavioral experiment that you can run with yourself.

00:33:16 Maree

Maybe you don’t have to do it every party, but you try it for one or two parties and test that.

00:33:21 Maree

Do that bit of a behavioral experiment of.

00:33:24 Maree

What we call behavioral experiment, which is go to the party, see what your behavior is like.

00:33:28 Maree

Without the alcohol, you might enjoy it.

00:33:29 Maree

I think you know we were just talking about it.

00:33:31 Maree

Sometimes it actually can be more fun to do that.

00:33:33 Maree

And then it’s also being around peers and having the conversations with them that maybe this is what you’re going to choose to do and then gathering strength from.

00:33:42 Maree

You’ll be surprised how many.

00:33:44 Maree

Other peers will also be thinking that that’s something that they might like to try.

00:33:47 Maree

We have an experiment and see whether we can actually have fun without drinking.

00:33:51 Andy

I do remember doing some experiments earlier in my life around this exact same thing and I kind of found that over time the people that I hung around with changed.

00:34:00 Andy

Because being the only sober one in the room isn’t always a heap of fun, and it gets a bit boring.

00:34:06 Andy

I think sometimes from my own experience I would drink because it was a way of joining in with the entertainment rather than actually taking that move and making myself that separate person in that social environment.

00:34:17 Maree

Yeah, yeah it can change.

00:34:20 Maree

It can change the people who you’re with and that’s such.

00:34:25 Maree

An interesting observation because I think it probably creates UA.

00:34:29 Maree

Chuck and more complex group of friends who like to do different things, and that’s certainly been my personal experience and it’s been the feedback that we get from people who go through our programs and our treatment programs.

00:34:41 Maree

So, changing this has actually meant that they’ve got a more rich and more interesting lifestyle.

00:34:46 Maree

People who find different ways of having fun.

00:34:48 Louise

I think one of the things like keep hearing you say comes out of this as like as you look at your relationship with drugs and alcohol and you work towards building a healthier relationship.

00:34:58 Louise

You kind of set these boundaries up.

00:35:00 Louise

Yourself of what’s acceptable to you and it takes that strength to say, I suppose.

00:35:04 Louise

Noda peer pressure, and I’m wondering specifically what skills will help with that, but also how they can be transferable to other things because that’s a case of stepping into your own personal power in regard to your relationship with drugs, but you could do that in relationship to toxic.

00:35:20 Louise

Friendships or anything that’s really impacting your emotional well-being.

00:35:24 Maree

Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for the skills that are, as you said, these are skills that can flow across not just around relationships with drug and alcohol, but they are phenomenal life skills to have, and I think I said earlier.

00:35:39 Maree

They even practice making sure I don’t say should and that.

00:35:42 Andy

Shouldn’t say should.

00:35:43 Maree

Yeah, that’s right band.

00:35:48 Maree

It’s completely banned, and I use that in all sorts of aspects of my life, so I 100% agree these are amazing skills that you can have and that you can transfer across so many different areas.

00:36:00 Louise

Are there any other specific ones that come to your mind that we can kind of adopt right now?

00:36:05 Maree

The thinking traps of getting into the spiral of feeling anxious, drinking and then getting more anxious.

00:36:12 Maree

But the only way to cope with it is so the thinking traps and the spirals and observing them.

00:36:18 Maree

There are some great skills around just even if you think you’re starting to have a few problems with your alcohol.

00:36:24 Maree

Use than using a diary to just write down when you’re drinking, because your brain can play tricks on you, and you can think you’re not drinking as much as you actually are.

00:36:32 Maree

So just even the simple method of actually writing down how much you’re drinking can give you some feedback should is an incredibly powerful one to work with, and just challenging that normative stuff, you know.

00:36:44 Maree

Everyone is doing it.

00:36:45 Maree

Maybe it is and everyone that’s an incredibly powerful want to.

00:36:48 Louise

The thing that we took on board from last time that you said, and we’ve you know it’s been three weeks or so in between our last chat that we’ve actively done is we’re trying to stop saying, should, ah, fantastic.

00:37:00 Louise

It’s surprising how many times I though I’ve caught myself doing it now that you’ve pointed it out that it’s a thing that people say.

00:37:06 Louise

And yes, yeah, it’s oh, it’s hard.

00:37:09 Maree

It’s quite catchy, isn’t it?

00:37:11 Maree

It is quite hard.

00:37:12 Maree

It’s quite catchy, but I also find it incredibly empowering to recognize it in myself and to catch myself and now get quite a sense of relief.

00:37:16 Louise

Yes, left.

00:37:23 Maree

And I recognize that I’m saying should.

00:37:26 Maree

UM course.

00:37:27 Maree

Now I’m going to stay home all the time.

00:37:30 Louise

You’re going to be so conscious of it after this chat.

00:37:32 Maree

In my life.

00:37:35 Maree

I’m like that little word should is so powerful because it’s so laden in guilt and expectations.

00:37:43 Maree

So, I think really, it’s not underestimating the power that one word can have in our lives and the way that we can change the way we interact with the world.

00:37:53 Maree

By reflecting on that and by just making a small change, what seems like a small change.

00:37:59 Maree

But I think you have both picked out where it can snowball into being a really.

00:38:04 Maree

Large positive change.

00:38:05 Maree

I’m so happy to hear that works for you.

00:38:08 Maree

The way it works for me.

00:38:08 Louise

Yeah, I noticed it in things like particularly.

00:38:12 Louise

I suppose in forecasting stuff you know.

00:38:14 Louise

Oh, I should have this done or I should have this figured out by now.

00:38:18 Louise

And who’s really putting these arbitrary rules on things?

00:38:20 Louise

Because it’s just adding anxiety to the pile that didn’t need.

00:38:23 Louise

To be added, yeah.

00:38:25 Maree

And I should feel this way, or I should feel that way and again like you said.

00:38:29 Maree

It’s adding the anxiety onto that pile, and you really don’t need to add any more anxiety onto that pile and expectations on ourselves like we are in control.

00:38:39 Maree

We can actually set the rules and we can set the timeline and to allow other people to do that can just really increase that anxiety.

00:38:47 Louise

What are you replacing your shoulds with when you?

00:38:49 Maree

Oh, I try and set them into a much more realistic.

00:38:54 Maree

It depends on what the area is that I’m saying should in a big one for me is, you know I should finish my work a lot faster than I am finishing it.

00:39:06 Maree

And the reality is that I’m finishing.

00:39:10 Maree

The time that I am.

00:39:12 Maree

Finishing it, there are factors that are associated with that.

00:39:15 Maree

I may like to do it slightly faster or in a different way, and I can then by chucking away, should think about well, what are the things that stop me from doing it in the way that I wanted to do it.

00:39:30 Maree

Another strategy I use.

00:39:33 Maree

Not I should finish the work, but what are some of the positive things about finishing earlier?

00:39:40 Maree

What are some of the less positive things about finishing earlier and how can I get to those?

00:39:45 Maree

So, checking away should allow me to pull the issue apart a little bit more and to reflect that.

00:39:52 Maree

OK, I might be doing it.

00:39:53 Maree

Slower, but I’m still getting it done, so it allows the positive in.

00:39:57 Louise

One of the subjects we were going to head into last time was kind of a pros and cons of when we use substitutes for.

00:40:05 Louise

I feel like I’m flipping completely from should.

00:40:07 Louise

But for our addictive behavior as opposed to kind of investigating the cause like we were thinking, you know some people might smoke.

00:40:15 Louise

They might try and replace cigarettes with lollies that kind of a thing.

00:40:19 Louise

Whether this is a good thing to do or whether it’s just another problem.

00:40:23 Maree

We’ve always got the balancing going on in our heads, haven’t we?

00:40:27 Maree

And I think what you’re talking.

00:40:29 Maree

About there is thinking through the levels of harm that our behaviors, the things that are good, or the things that are not so good about our behavior and where we land with those.

00:40:41 Maree

I think you descend talking about replacing, say for example, alcohol within sugary drinks.

00:40:48 Maree

Yeah, or with.

00:40:49 Maree

Police this poms associated both of those things.

00:40:53 Maree

It’s working out what the better of that balance is sort of better to not quite 2 evils but the better of two options.

00:41:01 Maree

And perhaps it’s getting that balance right?

00:41:04 Maree

That’s a really challenging thing for people and there are options.

00:41:09 Maree

Where you can go for the healthy option, but maybe you.

00:41:12 Maree

Don’t have to do that every single time.

00:41:14 Maree

Maybe you don’t have to go to the unhealthy option every single time, but unless you think about what your options are, you won’t have the choice to go for one or the other.

00:41:23 Andy

With their choices in re framing the way that we’re thinking about it, it’s more about trying to give us something healthier to look forward to in general.

00:41:29 Andy

It is, you know they always over the cigarettes or whether it’s something else we’re replacing for short for example.

00:41:35 Maree

Yeah, and part of that balance of balancing out whether you make one choice or.

00:41:40 Maree

Another it’s tide up in short term and long term so the lolly can be really gratifying in the short term.

00:41:48 Maree

But we know we’re going to be putting on weight or we’re going to be increasing the risk of having tooth decay or increasing the risk of longer-term heart disease.

00:41:58 Maree

We do often think about.

00:42:00 Maree

What’s right up in front of us and then discount what the consequences could be longer term so.

00:42:08 Maree

One of the things is actually writing it down and acknowledging that they’re a short term, and that there are longer term consequences to what we do.

00:42:15 Maree

We are incredibly clever as humans at discounting those longer term.

00:42:21 Maree

It’s like we’re sort of inbuilt bravery machines.

00:42:24 Maree

We look at the upfront and we don’t think about the.

00:42:28 Maree

Longer term.

00:42:29 Maree

And sometimes the more serious harms and our brains are wired for that.

00:42:32 Maree

So, it’s a challenge to make sure that we identify those and take those into consideration when we’re making our choices.

00:42:39 Andy

It’s almost like it’s too easy to fall into the trap of.

00:42:42 Andy

There’s always tomorrow, tomorrow’s another day.

00:42:44 Andy

This is the long-term thinking that you’re thinking about, yeah.

00:42:46 Maree

Yeah, that type of long-term thinking that’s such a great example.

00:42:51 Maree

You got the chocolate block there.

00:42:52 Maree

I’ll put it off.

00:42:53 Maree

I’ll have it today, but I’ll put off the change to tomorrow.

00:42:57 Maree

I think that comes back to where it’s.

00:43:00 Maree

A good idea of thinking about what are the good things about doing that?

00:43:04 Maree

You’re going to get the initial gratification, but maybe not some of the good things about doing that.

00:43:09 Maree

Well then tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow you’ll have to do if it’s eating that chocolate bar.

00:43:14 Maree

The accumulation of that sugar will end up.

00:43:17 Maree

You’ll have to do a lot of extra space in order to counter that.

00:43:20 Maree

So, it’s being really explicit about the decision, isn’t just about what’s happening to you right now.

00:43:27 Maree

The decision is also about what’s going to happen next week, when every day you eat that chocolate.

00:43:33 Louise

Reminds me of that.

00:43:34 Louise

Is it the marshmallow experiment where they put the marshmallows in front of the kids in a room and said you can either have one now or you can have five if you wait 15 minutes and no one and no one could wait 15 minutes, I think?

00:43:46 Maree

That’s so true and kids are really good kids, so kids are hard wired to get those marshmallows.

00:43:49 Andy

Would be.

00:43:50 Louise

Me too.

00:43:56 Maree

As that kid.

00:43:57 Maree

You know they’re part of their brain.

00:43:59 Maree

That should kick in and allow them to do all this decision or work.

00:44:02 Maree

The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, isn’t well developed, so it absolutely they’re really wired for taking risks, and you actually want them to.

00:44:12 Maree

You want them.

00:44:13 Maree

Experience lots of things in life.

00:44:15 Maree

That’s why kids particularly have trouble with that marshmallow experience.

00:44:19 Maree

Adults we got a bit more brain development.

00:44:21 Maree

We should be able to kick into gear that decision part of our brain.

00:44:24 Louise

If we intellectually know that we’re better off waiting for 15 marshmallows later instead of 1 Marshmallow now, or if we’re better off making a healthier choice because alcohol drugs are not doing good stuff for us in the long term.

00:44:39 Louise

But we emotionally go for the one marshmallow or the booze.

00:44:43 Louise

How do we kind of switch that thinking?

00:44:46 Louise

Are there steps that we can take that actually help us make those long-term goals?

00:44:51 Louise

Something that we can feel like we’re achieving now?

00:44:54 Maree

It’s emotionally and it’s also through habit, so we are also excellent at picking up cues and habit.

00:45:03 Maree

And the things that we would normally do so part of the way of dealing with this is creating some new habits and so the habit might be that you have two or three or four you know glasses.

00:45:14 Maree

Of wine, even two glasses of wine in the evening.

00:45:17 Maree

Maybe you have a glass of wine and a glass of water.

00:45:19 Maree

You get into the habit of all.

00:45:21 Maree

Having a glass of water in between having the glass of wine, so part of it is fun learning and then learning new healthier habits so that they become and practicing them, so they become really second nature.

00:45:34 Maree

Having a break in and allowing yourself to have a break from alcohol particularly.

00:45:41 Maree

Over, you know setting a time, but having that break allows you to experience how you feel without actually having it, so again breaking that habit and breaking that you know expectation.

00:45:51 Maree

So, it’s very much thinking through ways to both allow you to change that behavior, but also to allow you to.

00:46:00 Maree

Changed the way that you think about things and to challenge some of those thoughts that you might think.

00:46:04 Maree

The only way that you can have fun is by drinking, or the only way that you can have fun or interacted.

00:46:10 Maree

A party is by drinking.

00:46:12 Maree

It’s a really interesting experiment to go to a party and test that out.

00:46:16 Maree

Can you actually have fun at a party without drinking now?

00:46:20 Maree

I’m making this sound like it’s super easy and it isn’t, and it takes as much practice as it takes as we talked about earlier to change your.

00:46:29 Maree

Thinking and change the way that you talk about things.

00:46:33 Maree

That’s really simple example of should change behavior takes as much practice and is and is effortful like it is with the short example.

00:46:41 Andy

How long does it take to change a habit?

00:46:43 Maree

That’s a really good question, and the reason I say it’s a really good question is because it can take a minute to change that.

00:46:52 Maree

Sort of first instance actually change their behavior, but it can also take a lifetime, so exercise is a really, really good example.

00:46:59 Maree

You can think to yourself, OK, I’m going to get up.

00:47:02 Maree

I’m going to exercise, and you can do that, and often people can do that for first three or four or even seven days.

00:47:08 Maree

And then something happens, and they don’t do it on that 7th day, and they can.

00:47:12 Maree

Then think well, maybe I can’t keep doing this and doubts can come in and I should be able to do it all the time.

00:47:18 Maree

There’s that should word again.

00:47:20 Maree

And because they didn’t do it on that one day, they think it’s all lost.

00:47:24 Maree

But what about re framing that as well?

00:47:26 Maree

You actually did it for seven days.

00:47:28 Maree

That is fantastic.

00:47:30 Maree

So, if you did it for seven, maybe you can do it for another 7.

00:47:32 Maree

So not letting that little glitch in the change in behavior make you feel like that.

00:47:37 Maree

You can’t change your behavior and you know we’re really.

00:47:41 Maree

Wired to have those doubts and one of the big challenges is taking that information that you got in challenging that the information is so powerful.

00:47:49 Maree

The information that you did it for seven days, remembering that and using that as your strength, I’m changing the behavior going forward.

00:47:57 Louise

Do you think we need to show ourselves more empathy and forgiveness?

00:48:01 Louise

Not changing things as fast as we think we should do.

00:48:05 Maree

Them, yeah definitely.

00:48:06 Maree

And holding on to the positives, holding on to what you can do and amplifying what you can.

00:48:13 Maree

I’ve got a little bit of a saying I try and throw away my failures and hold on to my successors and I acknowledge the failures.

00:48:21 Maree

I try and learn from them, but after I’ve learned from them, I’m going to throw them away because I really want to focus on where the successors are and it’s the same in changing any behavior, whether it’s eating those chocolate bars.

00:48:33 Maree

Every day, or whether it’s changing your behavior so you can get up and.

00:48:37 Maree

Exercise and the habit is what is really cool.

00:48:41 Maree

It can lead us down the pathway of things that are not helpful for us.

00:48:45 Maree

But habit can also lead us down the pathway of things that are great.

00:48:49 Louise

For us, hear stories of people they say I went cold Turkey on something I was able to give it up overnight and I never thought about it again, but.

00:48:57 Louise

I’m wondering if you think it really exists or.

00:49:00 Louise

Or if cold Turkey is really just that kind of final manifestation of a whole series of other decisions that we’ve made along the way that maybe weren’t so conscious.

00:49:10 Maree

Yeah, it’s really interesting question and it’s a very interesting issue to think through ’cause you know some people can do that.

00:49:17 Maree

They can say tomorrow.

00:49:18 Maree

I’m never eating a chocolate bar ever again, and it happens.

00:49:21 Maree

They don’t, you know, we do have in our research knowledge of people who have decided tomorrow.

00:49:27 Maree

I’m not smoking and they.

00:49:29 Maree

Stop smoking, but it’s still more the exception than the rule and it’s still for most people it will take effort and it will take time to change those behaviors.

00:49:41 Andy

We were chatting to a successful CEO yesterday and.

00:49:46 Andy

He was lost when it comes to building the company and striving for his goals.

00:49:51 Andy

He doesn’t actually make failure an option.

00:49:53 Andy

Is that feasible?

00:49:54 Maree

So, he’s coming from a CEO perspective, so I suppose it depends on your XP.

00:49:59 Maree

Mutations if the question is, is it possible to not have values that failure isn’t an option?

00:50:06 Maree

I come both from a research perspective and I come at this also from human behavior and addiction and for me taking that context, we have to learn from failure.

00:50:19 Maree

Research and we also in a sense in addiction.

00:50:22 Maree

It’s learning from failure where we’ve failed or haven’t been able to change the behavior that we want to change.

00:50:28 Maree

It’s a different thing.

00:50:29 Maree

To say failure isn’t acceptable.

00:50:32 Maree

I’m not even going to allow failure to.

00:50:35 Maree

I’ll learn from that failure, but then I’ll throw it away because it’s not going to define how I will interact with the world in the future.

00:50:43 Maree

It won’t define for me as a researcher, weather I’ll try something new again, ’cause researchers about trying to take a bit of risk trying.

00:50:50 Maree

You if I fail once, it’s not going to stop me from trying again.

00:50:54 Maree

If I fail once with changing my behavior, it’s not gonna stop me from trying again, but I think that’s a risk.

00:51:00 Maree

We’re saying that failure isn’t an option because it doesn’t allow you to learn from it, and it also doesn’t allow you to move on if it’s gonna happen.

00:51:08 Maree

My view is in life failure.

00:51:10 Maree

Will happen.

00:51:11 Andy

I wonder if that’s a risk.

00:51:12 Andy

Sometimes if it’s falling into a trap of toxic positivity where some people say it’s been that for them works.

00:51:19 Andy

So, this person that I take fat off the table because that’s his approach into making sure he bounces back and making sure he doesn’t let any setbacks back or affecting that he’s.

00:51:29 Andy

Give up, so do we really need to start looking more into what we’re saying and how we say it know that might be supporting us or.

00:51:36 Maree

Otherwise, I really love that term toxic positivity.

00:51:41 Louise

We’ll get it printed on the paycheck.

00:51:41 Maree

I think that’s amazing wow.

00:51:45 Maree

I, I think let’s Chuck out toxic positivity in toxic negativity and let’s talk about greater compassion so.

00:51:54 Maree

It’s being self-compassion and compassion to others.

00:51:58 Maree

So, I do love that toxic positivity makes me want to throw it out, but.

00:52:05 Louise

I think we’ve found the subject.

00:52:06 Louise

Of your next research paper.

00:52:08 Maree

No exactly I.

00:52:11 Maree

I have a very.

00:52:13 Maree

Person you probably hear this, but I compassion first but.

00:52:18 Maree

A human understanding that we’re human that.

00:52:20 Maree

Comes first.

00:52:21 Louise

How do you think that someone recognizes their cycle and complexities behind them?

00:52:27 Louise

Self-medicating, if you’re stuck in the cycle, maybe you don’t know it.

00:52:29 Maree

Yeah, yeah, it’s incredibly powerful, and again, this is a strategy that I use in everyday life as well, and that’s a bit of a theme of what we’ve been talking about to write things down, to observe patterns, to understand when things are happening, the relationship between feeling stressed, the relationship between the triggers.

00:52:49 Maree

For you, the relationship trim are you using substances are using alcohol or using drugs to cope.

00:52:55 Maree

And then what does that mean?

00:52:56 Maree

Cope with what and when is that most intense?

00:53:00 Maree

And then when you are most vulnerable, so it’s both my researcher.

00:53:03 Maree

But also, our approach is to try and break it down into bite sized chunks.

00:53:09 Maree

Break it down into parts that you can actually address rather than seeing it as a global well.

00:53:15 Maree

I drink to cope and that’s all.

00:53:16 Louise

There is to it if someone is stuck in that cycle as well, there might be a lot of physiological.

00:53:21 Louise

Stuff going on too, right?

00:53:22 Louise

Well, I’m sure there is.

00:53:23 Louise

Is there like a Cliff notes version you can give us of kind of the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain that maybe people don’t realize.

00:53:30 Maree

I think that particularly with alcohol, people are very used to the idea of drinking, and that first sense of feeling euphoric are more relaxed and more engaged feeling more social.

00:53:43 Maree

They’ve quite used to that and quite used as their associating with drinking and in a sense, we do have that.

00:53:50 Maree

As a message in our advertising sport, particularly, a lot of advertising of alcohol connected to sport and sport is such a positive act.

00:54:00 Maree

Activity for people to be involved with fun enjoyment.

00:54:03 Maree

So, I think people have really got that connection.

00:54:07 Maree

I think what they don’t have is that in the end you know alcohol is a depressant so the longer-term effects are that you do feel a sense of hopelessness and a sense, and alcohol can exacerbate that.

00:54:20 Maree

So, I feel we very much connect alcohol with that euphoric effect, and we don’t connect it with the fact that longer term it is actually.

00:54:28 Maree

Depressant so understanding that and when it flips from being joyful through to not is really, really important, and similarly, methamphetamines similarly with stimulant drugs, you get those initial rush is that we then prime our brain to be expecting the dopamine and the neurotransmitters which.

00:54:49 Maree

Give those pleasurable effects and when you take the drug away, your brain and the neurotransmitters you’ve depleted them in your brain and you’re really wanting those.

00:54:57 Maree

And that’s what drives you to.

00:55:00 Maree

Really then crave and need that drug to feel normal.

00:55:03 Andy

I feel like I’m particularly in the context of the current covid wave in Sydney and the pandemic in general.

00:55:09 Andy

There’s probably errors people to reach for some of these things to make themselves.

00:55:14 Andy

Feel better or.

00:55:15 Andy

To self sooth.

00:55:16 Andy

What are the some of the things in your toolkit that actually make you do that?

00:55:20 Andy

I mean, you know it’s pretty.

00:55:22 Andy

People questioned us on how they’re not a drug addict, but he it’s from watching your good mental health toolkit.

00:55:29 Maree

I think the fact that you brought mental health into that too is really important.

00:55:33 Maree

You know what’s in the mental health toolkit is a really good way of thinking about what are the things that I do to not then find myself at the end of the day.

00:55:41 Maree

The only thing I feel like I can do to cope is to have a drink.

00:55:45 Maree

OK, so there’s about four things.

00:55:47 Maree

One of them we sort of already.

00:55:48 Maree

Touched on, and while it’s super important at the moment to keep up with what’s going on in the news, it’s also important to cut yourself a bit of a break and have a bit of a break from that.

00:55:59 Maree

So it might be that you don’t have to get up and the first thing you do is look at the news now in the areas that are locked down at the moment you don’t get the first set of news about the latest changes until 11:00 o’clock.

00:56:12 Maree

So, what about making sure at least you don’t look at your social media feed as the very first thing go bro.

00:56:19 Maree

Wash your teeth and go and have your breakfast before you actually look at your social media.


Maybe yeah.

00:56:23 Louise

Can I pet my cats too?

00:56:24 Maree

So, oh my golly when you know the funniest thing as you just said that my cattle doctors bumped in here and jumped on my lap and I was about to say go pet your cat.

00:56:25 Louise

Is that alright?

00:56:35 Louise

I try to look at my phone in the morning and then Cat Stevens knocks it out of.

00:56:39 Louise

My knocks it.



00:56:41 Louise

Out of my hand.

00:56:42 Maree

Ah, it’s a really scary the number of people who look at their phone before they do anything else in the morning.

00:56:48 Maree

How many people look at their phone before they have breakfast?

00:56:50 Maree

So, challenge yourself.

00:56:52 Maree

Actually have breakfast.

00:56:53 Maree

Then look at your phone.

00:56:54 Maree

So that’s one.

00:56:55 Maree

The other one is.

00:56:57 Maree

Physical exercise is so important for our mental health.

00:57:01 Maree

So even in lockdown.

00:57:03 Maree

We’re still able to have a walk, so it’s making sure that you have those.

00:57:07 Maree

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, having.

00:57:09 Maree

The walk is really, really important for dealing with those feelings.

00:57:13 Maree

That’s anxiety and those depression feelings.

00:57:15 Maree

We are in an incredible time of anxiety.

00:57:18 Maree

With Covid, we’re worried about our loved ones.

00:57:20 Maree

We’re worried about what life will be like in the future.

00:57:23 Maree

Can have a really strong sense of not feeling in control, so for me, it’s looking at the things that I can control.

00:57:30 Maree

So, what’s something in a day that I can control cannot?

00:57:34 Maree

I choose that today.

00:57:36 Maree

I’m going to cook something.

00:57:37 Maree

Can I choose that?

00:57:39 Maree

Today I will go for two walks.

00:57:42 Maree

Can I choose that?

00:57:43 Maree

Today I will start a new activity, or I will ring a friend.

00:57:47 Maree

What’s something that you can control and then take pleasure in the fact that you chose to do that today?

00:57:54 Maree

Even though there’s a lot of other things you can’t control in our lives at the moment, and that’s the virus in particular, I think I’ve given you my 4 big ones, probably my last one is.

00:58:05 Maree

Work out how to connect and that is becoming increasingly more difficult originally in 20.

00:58:13 Maree

20 zoom, you know it was a bit interesting and there were all sorts of different ways you couldn’t connect over zoom and we were having trivia parties and we were even just talking to each other over zoom.

00:58:25 Maree

But now we’ve got a lot of fatigue.

00:58:27 Maree

You’ve got to think of different ways to connect over.

00:58:30 Maree

So, one of the ones we’ve been doing at work is the 1st 5 minutes of a zoom.

00:58:35 Maree

Everyone puts their microphone on, and people are off mute, and we just let the chat flow for five minutes in a chaotic way, and it makes it feel like we’re having a normal as possible interaction over.

00:58:47 Maree

So, lots of little, tiny strategies about how to connect in a world where we’re physically distancing so socially connect in a world where we’re physically distancing, so they’re the sort of four ones I’ve been trying to practice every day.

00:59:00 Maree

But it’s not easy, no?

00:59:03 Louise

We had this idea this morning in our morning meeting that we should try and start every day with like a pump-up song because Obama used.

00:59:11 Louise

Come lose yourself and then we were like we’re going to listen to our pump-up song and then when you go back and we’re going to say three good things that happened yesterday and then.

00:59:11 Maree

I love that.

00:59:18 Louise

Three good things that.

00:59:19 Louise

We’re looking forward to today, so I love it.

00:59:22 Louise

That’s ours.

00:59:22 Maree

Yeah, I love it.

00:59:23 Louise

That’s our new strategy going forward.

00:59:25 Maree

That is brilliant, and we’ve just gotta keep thinking up new strategies, don’t we?

00:59:29 Maree

Said that, they’re not boring.

00:59:30 Andy

Yeah, gotta keep having fun but somehow.

00:59:32 Maree

Somehow having fun because we.

00:59:35 Maree

Social animals and the physical distancing are a really creating havoc with that at.

00:59:41 Louise

The moment you’ve described yourself a few times in the last couple of interviews as a positive person.

00:59:46 Louise

Is that a muscle you’ve had to build?

00:59:48 Louise

Do you think you’re naturally positive, or is something you work on every day?

00:59:50 Maree

Oh, I like you know, I like that idea of a muscle, but I don’t think about it that way.

00:59:56 Maree

I think about it more as a spring.

00:59:58 Maree

I’ve got an innerspring and sometimes it does get unwound and I have to find out ways to wind it up again and it can fatigue.

01:00:06 Maree

Speak like a muscle does, but I suppose you could think about it as a muscle.

01:00:10 Maree

It’s just that for me it’s more an inner spring and that’s because I know sometimes, I just need to wind it up.

01:00:17 Maree

I have to work on it every day and I do probably find it easier than I know.

01:00:23 Maree

Some of my friends and colleagues to be positive.

01:00:26 Maree

Even in the face of you know, failing research.

01:00:28 Maree

Search or a face of negativity, but I do have to work on it every day.

01:00:32 Maree

But I’m always.

01:00:34 Maree

I wake up every day.

01:00:36 Maree

So grateful that I’m able to wind that spring up again.

01:00:39 Louise

Where else you’re getting your dopamine hits during the day?


Haha well.

01:00:44 Maree

Big one for me is interacting with people.

01:00:46 Maree

And other one.

01:00:47 Maree

I just get such a kick out of working, particularly with and doing research and walking in partnership with people who’ve been thrown.

01:00:56 Maree

You know, they really have been throwing a really tough.

01:01:00 Maree

Roll of the dice.

01:01:01 Maree

There are multiple reasons why they find themselves struggling with mental health or with drug and alcohol, and I just get such an amazing kick out of working with people to see their lives turn around and it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does happen, it is.

01:01:20 Maree

Just incredible so that really gives me a boost every single day.

01:01:25 Maree

’cause as tough as it is for me.

01:01:26 Maree

It’s a lot tougher and they are just incredibly inspiring.

01:01:30 Louise

Why did this become your purpose?

01:01:32 Louise

Why do you think that you connected with helping people like this?

01:01:36 Maree

He always had a real interest in helping people who’ve been challenged by health problems.

01:01:42 Maree

I have saw grandparents with polio.

01:01:45 Maree

I saw grandparents who lost legs and accidents and couldn’t work and so that sort of helping was always there for me, but I really didn’t know how to channel it.

01:01:56 Maree

And I was just super lucky one day to go to a medical specialist when I was in my teenage years and I said to them, if you had your time over again, what would you do?

01:02:06 Maree

I don’t know why I asked him that question, but I did, and they said I would do psychology.

01:02:11 Maree

He said to me if I had my time over again, I would do psychology.

01:02:14 Maree

G and I thought, oh, that sounds interesting.

01:02:17 Maree

So, I went off to university and I studied psychology and I was just I loved the science of it, and I loved the solving problems and I love, you know, working with people.

01:02:29 Maree

And I got my first job working in the inner-city area in Sydney.

01:02:34 Maree

Are very deprived area in a lot of homelessness.

01:02:38 Maree

A lot of people with mental health and drug and alcohol problems.

01:02:41 Maree

And I was just got my university degree.

01:02:44 Maree

It was super interesting.

01:02:46 Maree

Super cool, I thought I was going to solve the problems of the world and.

01:02:50 Maree

I was working a lot with individuals who were in the hostels for the homeless and there was a young man there called Jonathan and he was only a couple of years older than me, and he was incredibly well loved, incredibly well loved, particularly by his mum, his mum, and I know this, ’cause his mum was.

01:03:11 Maree

And Evison, who’s a human rights journalist in Australia.

01:03:14 Maree

And she wrote a book about Jonathan called Tell Me I’m here and Jonathan had both schizophrenia and drug and alcohol use and probably.

01:03:24 Maree

Only the week after I started work already to change the world.

01:03:28 Maree

Jonathan, who was only a couple of years older than me, died of an overdose in the hostels for the homeless and that just never left me.

01:03:38 Maree

That the tragedy and he was absolutely so well loved so.

01:03:44 Maree

From that day I was, you know, he didn’t have the opportunities and his family didn’t have the opportunities to have him in their lives, and so I’d really passionate about doing all I could to make sure that didn’t happen to other people.

01:03:59 Louise

Yeah, you kind of never know how far that circle of influence goes.

01:04:03 Louise

Do you like the interactions that you have with people and how much they impact on you?

01:04:08 Maree

Yeah, we’re social beings aren’t we? We’re social beings and they can really impact really, really impact on you. But I also think that for me I wanted to solve the world’s problems. But it also brought it really home to me that these are individuals and every single one of them counts.

01:04:27 Louise

Do you still want to solve the?

01:04:28 Louise

World’s problems.

01:04:29 Maree

Course I do what gets me out of bed every day.

01:04:35 Louise

Which one are we going to tackle first, then?

01:04:37 Louise

I suppose, I suppose the one you’ve spent your you know last several years looking into.

01:04:42 Maree

Yeah, that relationship between mental health, alcohol and drugs.

01:04:46 Maree

Yeah, that’s a big one for me.

01:04:48 Maree

More recently I’ve been quite focused on prevention, so I’ve been focused on what could we do?

01:04:55 Maree

How can we work with?

01:04:56 Maree

12- and 13-year-olds to give them the skills so that they can make the decisions and have an empowered relationship with any mental health problems that they may experience.

01:05:08 Maree

And also, when they become exposed for the first time to alcohol into drugs, how can we give them the skills to make the positive choices in their lives?

01:05:18 Louise

I am so happy to play a small part in amplifying that message and I’m sure Andy is as well ’cause we want to help you change the world.

01:05:25 Maree

Ah well, having the chance to talk to both of you is just really a fantastic way to both inspire like it’s so inspiring.

01:05:36 Maree

Talking to both of you with your passion, and I think that amplifying is really important, yeah?

01:05:42 Louise

That’s so lovely.

01:05:43 Maree

I’m gonna make sure I cut all.

01:05:44 Maree

My cattle dog.

01:05:45 Maree

And go for lots of walks.

Check out some of our other guests who appear throughout Reframe of Mind: