David LaingAt SMART Recovery groups, people manage their substance use while giving each other mutual support. They choose their own goals and work with others to achieve them. SMART is evidence-based and person-centred.

Currently The Buttery conducts two SMART Recovery groups, a weekly face-to-face group in Ballina and a Zoom group every Friday evening. The groups give people evidence-based tools to help them manage addictive behaviours. Attendance is free of charge.

David Laing has served the local community with his SMART Recovery group in Ballina for 10 years without missing a single group.

After working as a SMART Recovery volunteer, David joined The Buttery’s INTRA team eight-and-a-half years ago. He now runs two SMART Recovery groups supporting up to 12 members each and providing up to 30 episodes of care each week.

“I started the SMART recovery group as a volunteer in 2010. When The Buttery’s staff member, Thelia left and I was offered a position…thrown into the deep end. At the time, I was going through a personal tragedy, the passing of my beautiful son. Taking on this role and responsibility gave me purpose and determination to honour his memory by doing a much-needed service for the community. I felt privileged to walk beside those who were struggling to cope with their own life journey.

Over the years, I have seen the growth and success of many people who have changed their lives. I have also been there for some who have not been so successful but are still trying to overcome the barriers and challenges that only they can overcome.

I have been there with a few lost souls for whom the challenges and personal demons they had to face were too great. Unfortunately they ended their tortured lives. This is unfortunately part of the work we do. It is what keeps us committed to trying to help other people from going down that dark path.

On a lighter aspect of our work, I have made some great friendships and relationships that enrich my life. I am privileged to be able to do the work I do and would not have had the opportunity to do so without the support of the wonderfully skilled and committed people that I am so privileged to work alongside.

There have been some quirky times along the way. One that comes to mind occurred at the end of a meeting in Byron. One guy wanted the rug in the meeting room to furnish his home located on the train tracks. He also took a liking to my shoes, which I was not happy about! There have been many funny stories.

I have also been so grateful to be included in, as well as being honoured, to be part of our indigenous community through our involvement with the Namatjira Haven: a residential rehab for indigenous men near Alstonville.

Well I hope this will give you some understanding of my time at the Buttery’s INTRA outreach program. I will always cherish this opportunity and I am looking forward to continuing to walk alongside more people that need support to attain their goals as well as working alongside my passionate and committed colleagues and the INTRA team.

Thanks, Dave.”

There is no formal requirement for joining a SMART Recovery group other than refraining from attending the meeting while intoxicated or under the influence of other substances and respecting the group guideline agreement. For more information, please contact The Buttery’s Intake line, Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. 02 6687 1111

If this story has raised any concerns for you: Lifeline 13 11 14

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