Addicted Australia returns to SBS On Demand

1 Feb 2024

Back in 2019, Turning Point partnered with Blackfella Films and SBS to produce Addicted Australia, a four-part documentary series following the lives of ten Australians as they took part in a unique addiction treatment program developed by our clinicians.

Addicted Australia returns to SBS On Demand

The series, initially released in November 2020, sparked a national conversation about how we think about and respond to addiction.

More than 1.5 million people watched the series in its release month, and at least 1.3 million people have watched the series via streaming.

As of February 1 2024, the series is once again available via SBS On Demand.

To mark this re-launch, we asked Turning Point Executive Clinical Director Professor Dan Lubman AM to reflect on the series, and its impact.

Turning Point would like to once again acknowledge the ten participants and their families, who shared their stories of addiction with the public. We would also like to thank SBS and Blackfella films for inviting us to be a part of this groundbreaking documentary.

So Dan - it’s been more than three years since Addicted Australia’s release. What were you hoping to achieve when the documentary was released?

People with a history of addiction struggle to tell their stories because of stigma, which is often compounded by how they are represented in the media and in popular culture.

We really wanted to show the community at large the reality of addiction and recovery, and to promote a more compassionate response to those affected by this health condition.

We wanted people to see that addiction can be treated, and that recovery is not just a possibility, but a realistic goal.

Often discussions about treatment focus on rehab and detox. The thought of residential care is not appealing for many people. In fact, most people are better served by comprehensive outpatient care.

Unfortunately funding in this area is not prioritised compared to other areas of health, but the treatment program we delivered in the documentary is an example of the sort of care we want every person struggling with addiction to receive.

How is addiction usually portrayed on our screens?

The real stories of addiction are rarely told in the media, on TV, or in films.

Negative stories around alcohol and drugs in news media are pervasive and are written to provoke disgust and disapproval. Stereotypes that perpetuate stigma are reinforced, which discourages help-seeking for fear of judgement.

On the screen, addiction is often glamorised, particularly in action movies, with the hero character portrayed as high functioning without impairment - think James Bond, or Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

In comedies - think The Hangover, or Will and Grace - heavy drinking or drug use is often portrayed as humorous, with serious harms minimised or ignored.

And then at the other end of the spectrum are TV shows and movies that depict the person with addiction as either flawed or weak. They may seek help, only to later fail.

Addicted Australia allows us to see what addiction really is and what treatment can offer. It provides a real depiction of what addiction looks like in Australia, and showcases the bravery and courage of those who put up their hand for help.

What sort of impact has the series - and the way it portrays addiction - had?

I’ve been really touched by the number of people who have reached out to me since the initial release.

Soon after the show aired, I visited Hobart, and was approached by a mother and her daughter at Salamanca Market to say a big thank you to everyone at Turning Point. They’d watched the documentary together, and because of it, the daughter had felt empowered to seek help for her addiction.

Her mother told me that she was doing well, and their relationship had changed for the better.

At our residential detox, Wellington House, I met a young man who talked about seeing the documentary. He’d never thought about seeking help before, but the show gave him hope and demystified treatment.

There are countless other stories, many of them from people who watched it with family members or friends who reported that they had completely changed their view of addiction because of the show.

Why should the public tune in?

Roughly one in four Australians will struggle with an alcohol, drug or gambling problem in their lifetime, and one in twenty will develop an addiction. It remains one of the most stigmatised health conditions, which means it can take someone who needs help nearly two decades to seek it. That is far too long.

By breaking down stigma and showing the value of treatment, the documentary will change how you think about addiction, and could really help you or someone close to you.

I hope everyone will take the time to watch the four episodes, if they haven’t already!

Watch here:

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or drug use, call DirectLine on 1800 888 236 or visit for information and support to access treatment.

For anyone affected by gambling, call Gambling Help Online on 1800 858 858, or visit