Addictions South Pacific Private

We believe change is possible

Impulsivity is one of the key behavioural issues most closely associated with addiction, with a range of impulsive control disorders commonly co-occurring alongside addiction. The inability to self-regulate emotions and behaviours can be a major factor in why some individuals turn to addictive substances and behaviours to self soothe, and why they escalate as tolerance builds up. The same is true of individuals experiencing relational issues, mood disorders or developmental trauma, which also occur with high prevalence alongside addiction.

At South Pacific Private, we believe it’s vital to identify and address impulse control issues and other underlying issues as a core element in a comprehensive, trans-diagnostic approach to addiction treatment. Indeed, a growing body of research continues to demonstrate that addiction and its comorbidities – including impulse control disorders – often share common, deep roots in developmental trauma and Adverse Childhood Events. 

Trauma, abuse, neglect, parental addiction and less than nurturing developmental environments are therefore key drivers of addiction and concurrent conditions, and must be directly and effectively addressed in treatment to promote sustained recovery. 

Our treatment program is built around this understanding, and calls for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinical team including psychiatrists, group therapy facilitators and experienced psychotherapists. We follow an adapted interpretation of Pia Mellody’s Model of Developmental Immaturity, a model which traces dysfunctional and maladaptive adult behaviours and thought processes to childhood experiences and parental deficiencies. 

As well as delivering detox, rehab, group therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy, mindfulness training and psychiatric treatment, we teach the model directly to patients in educational lectures. We find that educating clients directly through the framework of the Developmental Immaturity model aids awareness, understanding and commitment to clear recovery plans. It helps clients understand where they came from, how they got here and the path needed for long term recovery. 

This comprehensive and holistic approach, which includes an integrated focus on teaching meditation and mindfulness techniques, is designed to address underlying issues including impulse control disorders. 

We work with clients to identify the key triggers of impulse control problems, help them understand that neural pathways have been entrenched by the repetitive nature of addiction, and assist by encouraging the practice of repeated, alternative options to promote emotional regulation. Our integrated Family Program, which brings parents, partners and close friends into the treatment process for several days, is designed to reduce relational triggers and build out a broader network of support and understanding. 

Taken together, we are firm believers that this comprehensive, trauma-focused, holistic approach to addiction treatment offers the strongest model for sustained, long-term recovery.

Online Self Assessments

Learn more about key indicators of addiction, trauma and mental health conditions by taking an assessment for yourself, or on behalf of a loved-one.

South Pacific Private

Supporting LGBTQIA+ Clients in Treatment and Recovery


South Pacific Private’s Cultural Safety Officer, Emma Mansell, share’s why for her, ensuring we offer comprehensive support for LGBTQIA+ clients is more than just a job.

As someone who’s been fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights for over a decade, I’m proud to be advocating and supporting LGBTQIA+ clients during their stay at South Pacific Private. I identify as ‘gender fluid’ myself, which means that over time I evolve my gender identity and gender expression. I work in a place where I am proud to be who I am and support others who are discovering themselves. For me, this work is personal.

When my wife and I decided to start a family, we realised at times we didn’t always fit in to the heteronormative mould. I was pregnant with our first child and at antenatal classes at a hospital there was only the discussion of ‘mums’ and ‘dads’. My wife was less than impressed with being allocated to the ‘dads group’. The discrimination we have faced is sometimes difficult to swallow. Often people will ask ‘how’ we had our children. I often reply by asking how they had theirs – they get the point.

Over time, my resilience has grown stronger, and having three kids who have adopted that resilience is a huge achievement. They often gloat to their friends how lucky they are to have two mums. Sometimes other kids’ parents come back to tell me how their child wants two mums!

My kids explain at school how they have a ‘donor’ who gave their mums a gift. We read them books about diverse families, teach them that some children are raised by a single parent, two dads, aunts/uncles or grandparents. All that matters is that they love each other. 

When it comes to seeking care and treatment within our healthcare system, often the system fails our community. Programs and facilities have been primarily built for heterosexual people, and  it’s an inbuilt assumption many healthcare practitioners carry. It only serves to further isolate us both individually and our community collectively.

In the LGBTQIA+ community, we have more than our fair share of those of us who have struggled with abuse, trauma and addiction. Many know what it’s like to feel fear and denial growing up. We often have been taught to feel ashamed for who we are by institutions, society and the media. 

Personally, I didn’t come out until my late teens, in fear that I would be rejected. Many close friends and family friends couldn’t accept the truth. I believe they were scared of knowing me and couldn’t see past my sexuality. Yet, this pain that we experience can be transformed to make us stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate to others. 

While LGBTQIA+ Australians achieved marriage equality in 2017, there is still more work to do. The abuse, stress, trauma and discrimination that LGBTQIA+ Australians endure continues to be disproportionate to our heterosexual and cisgendered peers. This continues to contribute to higher rates of mental health issues, addiction and suicide – so for treatment centre’s like South Pacific Private, it’s especially important to to provide an environment that is tailored, supportive, safe and effective for all clients, no matter what their background.

South Pacific Private: Proud To Be A Rainbow Treatment Centre

At South Pacific Private, we understand the importance in acknowledging and validating the complexity of people’s lived experiences as we work in partnership through their treatment and in recovery. Inclusivity is a priority for us. We recognise that gender is a spectrum, and wherever you are on that spectrum is respected by our team and the broaders community here. We also work to ensure all our therapists, nurses and doctors have a deep understanding of the many ways in which sexuality and gender can intersect with our experiences of mental health challenges, trauma and addiction. That includes how sexuality and gender identity can complicate our self-perception in childhood and adulthood, and how homophobia and intolerance from parents and other authority figures can impact our development. 

Quality of care is essential in helping every member of the community – and their families – find appropriate treatment. South Pacific Private seeks to provide a safe and open environment for treatment, with the aim that everyone feels able to openly share and discuss their experiences without fear of judgment. We pride ourselves on using respectful language, promoting awareness and training staff on gender identity, sexual orientation, and name and pronouns usage.

Supporting Rainbow Families

Health doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it exists within our society – and in many areas, especially outside of major metropolitan centres, there’s still much work to do to help build a more inclusive, thoughtful and caring society. That’s one of the reasons South Pacific Private is so proud to support initiatives like the Rainbow Families – an organisation devoted to supporting non-traditional families at every stage.

Rainbow Families was created to support any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer people who have a child or children or are planning on having a children. The group seeks to provide support and resources so that every family can succeed and live their best and most colourful lives. 

Among many other projects, Rainbow Families created an antenatal class for LGBTQIA+ families. My partner and I attended when I was pregnant with our second child, and it was so comforting to see families that looked like ours and be educated in a way that was inclusive.  It was inspiring to meet gay and trans dads who went through moving countries, using surrogates and the struggles of adoption to create their family. 

We became involved with Rainbow Families and helped to create a ‘Resilience Camp’.  The Rainbow Families Resilience Camp is now run every year at The Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation in the Northern Beaches. Families from all across Australia join to have fun together and make connections with others in a resilience building environment. This year, South Pacific Private is sponsoring Rainbow Families Resilience Camp. It will run 5th to 7th of November 2021.

Online Self Assessments

Learn more about key indicators of addiction, trauma and mental health conditions by taking an assessment for yourself, or on behalf of a loved-one.

Health Professionals South Pacific Private

A Message from the CEO

Glad to be back

Lynne Fishwick, CEO

Returning to the helm of South Pacific Private after almost a decade with St Vincent's Health Australia hospital group has been a satisfying and invigorating experience. I feel immense pride to be returning to a team which leads the nation in treatment for addiction, trauma and mental health. 

Like many of our staff, the mission of South Pacific Private has personal significance for me. I have loved ones who have struggled with the weight of depression and have turned to substance misuse as a coping mechanism. My family has experienced first-hand the painful cycle of mental illness and addiction as they fuel each other and inflict a devastating toll on the individual, their partner and the entire family. 

The impact of the work we do here at South Pacific is inspiring. Our focus on family systems and relationships remains unique and powerful, and our expertise in identifying and addressing underlying trauma is one of the most transformative aspects of our work. We provide, to those who reach out, the power, knowledge and tools to free themselves to live full, rich, happy and healthy lives – something everyone deserves, but which too often feels out of reach.

My vision for South Pacific Private in the years ahead is to build upon these elements of our program, to refine and formalise our long-term recovery program and to share our framework and expertise with the broader community in Australia. 

We remain committed to being there for the client community every step of the way. 

As leaders in dual diagnosis, sex addiction and complex trauma, I believe we have an obligation to extend our training and education programs to the broader Australian mental health professional community and I’m excited about the opportunity to help shape and inform Australian best-practice.

In the immediate term, we know that COVID-19 has brought its own complex set of challenges not only to our operations as a rehab in Sydney, but to our clients, alumni and the broader recovery community. 

We recognise that the pandemic has had a significant impact. The emotional, financial and social challenges are testing the resilience of even the strongest among us. To help, we have added a suite of face-to-face and online programs, and encourage everyone to contact us if they feel in need of additional support. We remain committed to being there for the client community every step of the way. 

I remember when Lorraine Wood (our founder) first told me that at South Pacific Private, our clients can truly expect a miracle. “Miracles happen here,” she would remind me, and I see proof of this every single day. 

It’s a privilege to be returning to the team at South Pacific Private and to work with Fran Hansen and Fleur Wood to carry forth Bill and Lorraine’s legacy of hope, compassion and excellence into the 2020s.

I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the years ahead.


Australia’s Leading Treatment Center

Cutting edge treatment for addiction, trauma and mental health.

Seeking Help Health Professionals South Pacific Private

Foundations of the South Pacific Program

Our clinical approach

In 1993, South Pacific Private’s founders introduced a comprehensive, trauma-informed, parallel-treatment based approach to Australia. Our programs are grounded in abstinence, moulded around the 12-step program and include a strong focus on group therapy and family systems. 

Based on the pioneering developmental trauma framework developed by Pia Mellody and the Meadows rehab centre in Arizona, our clinical approach is focused on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of addiction and dysfunction, and addressing co-occurring issues including mental illness, relational problems and childhood trauma. Our treatment approach is continually refined to reflect research developments, decades of institutional experience and the diversity of lived-experiences in contemporary Australia.

As Program Director, I’m proud of our commitment to compassionate, evidence-based, research-driven care at our 54-bed private hospital on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Below, I’ve outlined some of the key clinical underpinnings that inform our approach to clinical best practice.



Dual diagnosis / comorbidity

Australian health authorities estimate that between 50% and 75% of individuals with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental illness – with depression and anxiety particularly common  as well as cases of C-PTSD (childhood trauma) and psychotic illnesses. Clinical best practice advice is clear: co-occurring issues should be treated concurrently, and long-term recovery plans must take relapses of both mental health issues and addiction into account. 

As pioneers of dual diagnosis treatment in Australia, our flagship, three-week inpatient program is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychologists, GPs, nursing staff and case-workers capable of treating a broad spectrum of relational issues, mood disorders and traumas.

Developmental trauma 

At the core of the South Pacific Private’s approach to treatment is an understanding that developmental trauma, broadly defined, leads to an increased risk of dysfunction in adulthood, including personality, relational and mood disorders as well as substance and process addictions. Through an integrated five-day trauma program (Changes I) our team aims to identify and address the ongoing effects of trauma in a safe, sensitive therapeutic environment. The aim is to raise awareness of maladaptive responses, redirect focus to strengths and successes, build lasting resilience and support long-term recovery and healing. The program is centred around Pia Mellody’s Model of Developmental Immaturity.

The research which has emerged since we developed this approach continues to confirm our ongoing experience. A groundbreaking, large-scale study in the United States found that Adverse Childhood Experiences lead to increased rates of mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood. More recent research has confirmed strong correlations for mental illness, alcoholism and sexual risk-taking, and very strong correlations for problematic drug use, severe relational issues and self-harm. Studies in Australia have confirmed similar prevalence, with 50-72% of Australians reporting ACEs including household mental health issues, substance abuse, divorce, neglect or emotional, physical and sexual abuse. 

A recognition of this risk of intergenerational trauma led to our pioneering Children's Program, aimed at reducing the long-term developmental impact of a caregiver’s substance abuse or mental illness.



A strong therapeutic community

At South Pacific Private, we recognise that a dual-track therapeutic approach, which includes both group and one-on-one therapy, offers the best model for recovery. The research is clear that group work, including 12-step programs, must be a core element of effective addiction treatment. 

By creating a compassionate, open and judgment-free environment, group work can reduce the barriers of fear, shame and isolation, help clients build healthy social skills and resolve relational difficulties. Longer term, group work bonds clients to their recovery, with therapeutic forces within groups rewarding recovery (e.g. optimism, empathy, affiliation, confrontation, support, gratification and identification.)

South Pacific Private has developed a range of strategies to promote healthy communication within a highly engaged client community. Within our therapeutic community, the team facilitates the development of self-awareness, accountability, boundaries, emotional maturity and functional adult skills.

Group modalities within our program include psychoeducational training, skills development sessions, support groups, external AA and NA meetings and interpersonal process group psychotherapy. 


Healing families, repairing relationships

South Pacific Private’s integrated focus on addressing relational dysfunction and treating entire family systems marks a key point of difference. From research and experience, we know that dysfunctional relationship patterns can be a key trigger for relapse and that re-entry into a family system without guided support can be fraught with risk.

Our Family Program – in which partners, family members and friends are invited to participate in an intensive education and support program – is built into our three-week inpatient program and can also be taken as an independent four-day workshop

Our family, partner and children's programs are designed to educate families on addiction and key recovery concepts; to identify and break dysfunctional, self‐perpetuating relational patterns; to build resilience and healthy communication skills; to reduce the likelihood of relapse triggers; and to promote understanding of the maladaptive ways in which relational systems may have adjusted to accommodate or defend against an individual’s addiction or behaviour. Within intimate relationships, additional work may be required to rebuild trust and understanding, and to provide tools and strategies to set the relationship on a healthier course. 


Rehab, Continuing care and relapse prevention

South Pacific Private places a strong focus on continuing care with a dedicated Transitions Program to prepare clients for re-entry to their home, work and social environments. All patients develop a tailored recovery plan which always includes an element of ongoing group attendance.

South Pacific Private also continues to offer a range of advanced recovery Workshops and Day Programs, including family education programs and Changes II, a bespoke follow-up program to build upon the awareness and trauma-resilience skills learned in Changes I. This extended commitment to ongoing care has been evidenced to support better outcomes for long-term recovery and is a critical component of all our treatment plans. 

Our aim is for clients to leave our programs equipped with long-term recovery skills, backed by a resilient support network, armed with deeper insight of the impacts of trauma and ready to pursue a tailored, sustainable long-term recovery plan. 

To speak with South Pacific Private about referrals, or to check whether a particular patient may be suitable for our programs, call us seven days on 1800 063 322. To stay informed, sign up to our newsletter here.

Australia’s Leading Treatment Centre

Cutting-edge treatment for addiction, trauma and mental health.

Recovery Drug & Substance Abuse South Pacific Private

From Meth Addiction To Recovery

The medicine had become my poison

I came to the front door for rehab at South Pacific Private in Sydney's Northern Beaches with a $500 a day ice addiction and pot dependency which I needed to get myself to sleep each evening. Despite the severity of the situation, I had little idea how sick I was back then. 

I didn’t come because I had some spiritual awakening, I didn’t have a light-bulb moment, it was simply that the drugs stopped working. There is a saying in Narcotics Anonymous that “chemicals medicate pain.” For me, the drugs had long stopped medicating – the medicine had become my poison. 

I didn’t use ice to enhance my Saturday nights, I used so I wouldn’t think, feel or dream. For a while, the chemicals ticked those boxes. For a while, I thought I was the puppet master changing my world both instantly and dramatically. I didn’t notice that I had morphed into a slave to a substance I thought I needed more than oxygen.



On my third night in rehab, during a medically supervised detox, I went into a psychotic fit of involuntary spasms. An ambulance was called and I was taken to Manly Hospital. The next few days were spent having brain scans to determine whether I was epileptic and was suffering fits. They proved negative, it was the beginning of my body detoxifying.

Recovery isn’t always a straight line. I stayed clean for three hours after my first admission. After my second admission, I stayed clean for seven months before a single case of relapse. I came into my third admission after three months clean, and was sent back to rehab by my GP who said I was on the verge of a major relapse and needed to go somewhere safe.

“The only courageous thing I did was ask for help and admit that if I had no idea how to stop using, maybe someone else did.”

My diagnosis for that third admission was 'complex grief.' In the space of just a week, my ex-wife had died prematurely of a rare cancer, an intimate relationship collapsed and my best friend moved overseas.

That third visit was significant because of the depth of the work I was able to focus on to resolve issues of intimacy, avoidance and relationships. Once I was clean, I was able to focus my attention on addressing more substantial issues. I had the opportunity to ‘re-parent’ my inner child, which raised my awareness of how my childhood experiences had led to destructive coping mechanisms in later life.

I learned more about my issues with avoidance and adapted behaviour, and how I could work on them going forward. After that inpatient stay, I was fortunate to engage with the Transitions Program for three months, four days a week.

Writing this now, I am nearly six and a half years clean. I worked through a 12-step program and began my journey by doing a meeting a day for two years, and ringing my sponsor every day for that period. 



I thought recovery from addiction was a 10-day detox focused on switching from extreme use to a more manageable diet of substances. I never signed up for abstinence nor for a deep searching personal inventory, but that’s what I got. I now recognise that it’s the only way I could have found freedom from the addiction cycle, which had become a soul-destroying nightmare.

I learnt at South Pacific Private that early recovery takes about five years, and have discovered that this is a journey you should never travel alone, that it demands a comprehensive support network. The only courageous thing I did was ask for help and admit that if I had no idea how to stop using, maybe someone else did.

If you’re at the beginning of your journey and thinking about rehab for the first time – or struggling with relapse further down the track – reach out today. Freedom is out there, if you take that first step.

Australia’s Leading Treatment Centre

Learn more about addiction and recovery with South Pacific Private.