Drug Programs & Counselling in NSW

If you have been charged with any sort of drug offences you may want to consider the option of voluntarily seeking out professional drug counselling, psychological treatment or rehabilitation especially if drug consumption or addiction is a problem that you have experienced.

Not only will a drug user undoubtedly learn a lot from such professional treatment and hopefully benefit by abstaining from drugs but a person who has proactively sought out counselling or psychological treatment will show the Courts that they have taken significant and positive steps in tackling their drug problems.

By making a serious effort to receive professional help for an obvious drug problem you put yourself in a position where you can show the Court that you have taken steps to ensure that you do not reoffend again in the future. Generally the Courts are very receptive to hearing  about how an offender has made a significant effort to try and rehabilitate and reform their offending behaviour. Consequently, many Magistrates and Judges will strongly take into account such evidence that can prove to the Court that the offender has put themselves through rehabilitation, counselling or obtained psychological treatment and in turn deal with their Court penalties and sentences with a certain level of lenience.

Certainly, if a person has been charged with minor drug possession and that person can show the Court that they have taken steps to obtain professional drug help then they put themselves in a far better position is having the Courts deal with their matter under Section 10 – which basically means that they would not be criminally convicted for that particular offence.

There are various different types of professional assistance offenders can obtain including rehabilitation, counselling or psychological treatment. Below we discuss the various different form of professional help you should consider:

Psychological Treatment:

We find that when our clients have obtained professional Psychological Treatment for their drug issues they benefit from it substantially in life and also in relation to their Court matters.

For someone seeking to obtain Psychological Treatment the first thing they should do is go along to your local Doctor or General Practitioner (GP) and explain to them that you have been going through a hard time in tackling some drug issues.

You will need to get a referral from your GP to a Clinical Psychologist. If you have a particular Psychologist in mind then you can ensure that you obtain a referral to that person, otherwise your GP will be able to refer you to a Clinical Psychologist that they know of.

When you are in your consultation with your GP you should enquire whether or not you are suitable to be assessed under the Medicare Mental Health Plan which would basically mean that you could claim a Medicare rebate for up to 10 treatment session per year. This is something that may be of significant assistance for you financially.

Once you have obtained a referral to a Clinical Psychologist you will be assessed by him or her and they will generally develop a treatment plan customised to your particular issues usually involving a variety of different treatment methods.

A really good thing about obtaining psychological treatment is that generally the Clinical Psychologist is very accommodating when it comes to preparing a Psychologists Report to tender to the Court at your hearing. A good Psychologists report can be invaluable and have a significant effect on the way in which a Magistrate or Judge deals with you matter and what penalties they decide to hand down.

Having taken all of this into account – what is really important is for you to attend as many sessions which your Clinical Psychologist as possible before your matter is finalised in Court. Generally, the Courts will allow some period of time for you to adjourn your matter and obtain professional treatment however the more sessions you can complete before your final hearing will mean that you look like you are extremely serious about your treatment and rehabilitation.

For example if an offender turns up to their final Court hearing having completed 12 sessions of psychological treatment this will certainly be given far more weight when it comes to sentencing compared to an offender who turns up to their final Court hearing with just 1 or 2 sessions completed with their psychologist.

An offender needs to show the Court that they are serious and committed to tackling their drug problems so that they do not reoffend again in the future.

MERIT Program:

The MERIT Program is one of the most popular drug offender programs in New South Wales. MERIT stands for Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment and as the program title suggests it is a program that requires the referral and consent of a Magistrate in order to allow a person to participate.

Click on the drop down titles below to find out more about the MERIT Program:

What the MERIT Program aims to achieve? +

The MERIT Program is a relatively new program which is specifically aimed to help drug offenders tackle their drug dependency issues through ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.

The main aim is to break the cycle of criminal offences caused by drug dependent offenders.

MERIT Program is made available to particular defendants who have appeared at NSW Local Court that is set up to allow defendants to participating in the MERIT Program.

The program targets defendants with a demonstrable drug or alcohol problem who are eligible and suitable for release on bail and who are motivated to engage in treatment and rehabilitation.

Which Courts allow the MERIT Program? +

The program currently operates in the following Local Health Districts (LHDs), with participating Local Courts listed.

Courts marked with "#" offer alcohol services in addition to MERIT for illicit drugs.

Albion Park

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4254 2700
Fax: 4254 2771

Junee

Murrumbidgee Local Health District
Tel: 6923 5761
Fax: 6923 5751

Parkes

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

Ballina

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Katoomba

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
Tel: 4734 2131
Fax: 4734 3145

Parramatta

Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9840 3474
Fax: 8838 2025

Bankstown

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 8778 0700
Fax: 8778 0768

Kempsey

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Tel: 6586 6030
Fax: 6586 6040

Penrith

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
Tel: 4734 2131
Fax: 4734 3145

# Bathurst

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

Kiama

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4254 2700
Fax: 4254 2771

Port Kembla

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4254 2700
Fax: 4254 2771

Blacktown

Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9840 3474
Fax: 8838 2025

Kogarah

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9540 7464
Fax: 9521 8966

Port Macquarie

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Tel: 6586 6030
Fax: 6586 6040

Blayney

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

Kyogle

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: (07) 5506 6800
Fax: (07) 6621 6212

Queanbeyan

Southern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6299 1725
Fax: 6299 1426

# Broken Hill

Far West NSW Local Health District
Tel: (08) 8088 7199
Fax: (08) 8087 8970

Lismore

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Raymond Terrace

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 4016 4656
Fax: 4016 4661

Burwood

Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9515 7611
Fax: 9515 3722

Liverpool

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 8778 0700
Fax: 8778 0768

Ryde

Northern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9462 9199
Fax: 9439 2973

Byron Bay

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Maclean

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Singleton

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 6543 2677
Fax: 6541 4004

Camden

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 8778 0700
Fax: 8778 0768

Maitland

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 4016 4656
Fax: 4016 4661

Sutherland

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9521 8922
Fax: 9521 8966

Campbelltown

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 8778 0700
Fax: 8778 0768

# Manly

Northern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9462 9199
Fax: 9439 2973

Tamworth

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 6766 8081
Fax: 6766 8083

Casino

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Milton

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4422 5822
Fax: 4422 9684

Toronto

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 4016 4656
Fax: 4016 4661

Cessnock

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 4016 4656
Fax: 4016 4661

Mt Druitt

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
Tel: 4734 2131
Fax: 4734 3145

Tweed Heads

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: (07) 5506 6800
Fax: (07) 6621 6212

# Coffs Harbour

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Tel: 6650 0126
Fax: 6650 0098

Mullimbimby

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Wagga Wagga

Murrumbidgee Local Health District
Tel: 6923 5761
Fax: 6923 5751

Cooma

Southern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6299 1725
Fax: 6299 1426

Murwillumbah

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Wauchope

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Tel: 6586 6030
Fax: 6586 6040

Downing Centre

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9332 8788
Fax: 9332 8789

Muswellbrook

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 6543 2677
Fax: 6541 4004

Waverley

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9211 9277
Fax: 9281 5490

# Dubbo

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6881 4064
Fax: 6885 4577

Newcastle

Hunter New England Local Health District
Tel: 4923 6830
Fax: 4923 6850

# Wellington

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6884 7089
Fax: 6885 4577

Fairfield

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 8778 0700
Fax: 8778 0768

Newtown

Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9515 3722
Fax: 9515 3722

# Wilcannia

Far West NSW Local Health District
Tel: (08) 8088 7199
Fax: (08) 8087 8970

Forbes

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

North Sydney

Northern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9462 9199
Fax: 9439 2973

# Wollongong

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4254 2700
Fax: 4254 2771

Gosford

Central Coast Local Health District
Tel: 4320 3057
Fax: 4320 2423

Nowra

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Tel: 4422 5822
Fax: 4422 9684

Woy Woy

Central Coast Local Health District
Tel: 4320 3057
Fax: 4320 2423

Grafton

Northern NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6620 7650
Fax: 6621 6212

Oberon

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

Wyong

Central Coast Local Health District
Tel: 4356 9300
Fax: 4356 9305

Hornsby

Northern Sydney Local Health District
Tel: 9462 9199
Fax: 9439 2973

# Orange

Western NSW Local Health District
Tel: 6392 6800
Fax: 6392 6805

What is the MERIT eligibility criteria? +

Not everyone will be suitable to be accepted into the MERIT Program. So in order to be considered a suitable person for the MERIT Program a defendant must:

  • be an adult
  • be eligible for bail or not require bail consideration
  • voluntarily agree to participate in MERIT
  • be suspected of using drugs or be known to have a history of drug use or alcohol misuse.

The defendant MUST NOT have been:

  • charged with sexual or strictly indictable offences or have like offences pending before the court.

To be suitable for MERIT a defendant MUST:

  • have a treatable drug/alcohol problem for which there is appropriate treatment available
  • usually reside within the defined catchment area (or have sufficient connection to the area, for example, have full-time employment in the area)
  • voluntarily consent to undertake the MERIT program.
What types of treatment does MERIT Program offer? +

The MERIT Program is comprehensive and covers various different types of treatment for its participants including:

  • detoxification
  • methadone & other pharmacotherapies
  • residential rehabilitation
  • individual & group counselling
  • case management & numerous forms of welfare support & assistance.
What will happen during the bail period? +

  • Participants will participate in the treatment program as agreed to by themselves and the Caseworker.
  • Participants will abide by all conditions of bail and the MERIT treatment plan.
  • Participants will have the support and guidance of their MERIT Caseworker.
  • Participants will be required to appear before the Magistrate during this period, as the Magistrate hearing the case will require an update on treatment progress.
What happens if defendant fails to comply with MERIT Program? +

In circumstances where a person has agreed to enter into the MERIT Program but later fail to comply with the MERIT Program conditions then the defendant's caseworker will report the non-compliance to the Magistrate.

Following the reporting of non-compliance, the Magistrate may decide to remove the defendant from the MERIT Program and if this occurs then the defendants Court matters will proceed to sentence or hearing.

It should be noted that failure to respond to a drug treatment program will not be dealt with by punitive measures. If convicted of the offence(s) as charged, any penalty will relate to that offence only, and not to any failure to respond to treatment.

How MERIT Program effects Sentence/Hearing? +

The Court will generally ensure that the completion of the MERIT Program will coincide with the hearing or sentencing of the Court matter relating to the program participation. The MERIT Program will affect the Court hearing in the following way:

  • The Magistrate hearing the case will be provided with a report from the MERIT Team.
  • The report will give information on the client's participation in treatment and any further treatment recommendations.
  • Where possible, a detailed aftercare program will be formulated to assist participants to further their rehabilitation.

Types of sentences used after successful completion of MERIT vary but should reflect successful completion of MERIT and also take into account any recommendations for further treatment.

Drug Counselling & Rehabilitation:

If you feel as though you have some serious drug dependency issues then another option you may want to explore is to contact one of the drug counselling services or rehabilitation clinics that are available in our community.

Depending of your level of need when it comes to tackling drug dependency issues there are various different levels of support and help out in the community that is available to you. This can range from weekly group counselling sessions right through to full time rehabilitation clinics for seriously dependent drug addicts.

As we have mentioned above you may wish to take the first step of making contact with you local doctor or GP to get more information about what they think the most suitable kind of support there is available for you and your particular situation. Your local GP should have significant knowledge of local counselling services or rehabilitations clinics which you can partake in.

If it is clear that you do have some sort of drug dependency issues and especially if you have been charged with drug offences then it is strongly recommended that you get the best counselling or rehabilitation there is to get your life back in control and your health in order.

In addition to taking back control of your life the Court will see that you have taken significant steps to get on top of your drug addictions issues and will offer you a certain level of leniency when it comes to handing down the penalties and sentences for your particular drug offences.

COUNSELLING SERVICES:

Salvation Army Counselling

  • Sydney – (02) 9743 2831
  • Penrith – (02) 4731 1554
  • Campbelltown – (02) 4731 1554
  • Batemans Bay & Ulladulla – (02) 6248 5504

Visit their website to find out more information – http://salvoscounselling.salvos.org.au/

Wesley Mission Psychological Services

  • Ashfield - (02) 8922 9020
  • Sydney – (02) 9263 5577
  • Kingswood - (02) 4725 2747

Sydney Women’s Counselling Service

  • Campsie - (02) 9718 1955

REHABILITATION CLINICS:

Odyssey House

This is a residential rehabilitation program which aims to help individuals with drug addictions.

The program is a structured live-in program where all residents of the community are joined together in a single purpose – to improve their well-being. Group therapy is conducted regularly during the week. Vocational counselling, anger management, one on one counselling, domestic violence counselling, psychological services and assertiveness training and recreational activities are available to residents.

Research shows that the longer a person remains in rehabilitation, the better their chances of remaining abstinent in the long term. Most clients live at Odyssey House for 9-12 months.

  • Admissions & Intake – (02) 9281 5144

Salvation Army Bridge Program

The Salvation Army Bridge Program is a residential rehabilitation program which means that participants are required to live in at the programs residence. The Bridge Program will generally last between 8-10 months.

The Salvation Army follows the 12-Step Recovery Model, which incorporates various different aspects of drug rehabilitation including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the recovery journey.

The Bridge Program offers support to family and friends of patients undertaking residential rehabilitation and will help them to assist you when you exit the program. Contact any one of the following Bridge Program locations:

  • Blue Mountains Recovery Services Centre – (02) 4782 7392
  • Lake Macquarie Recovery Services Centre – (02) 4973 1495
  • Newcastle Bridge & Youth Program – (02) 4961 1257
  • William Booth House – (02) 9212 2322

Get more information online from their website – http://salvos.org.au/need-help/addiction-services/

 

Benefits of Drug Treatment & Counselling

Whilst we are criminal drug lawyers in New South Wales and our job is to represent our clients to the best of our ability – there is no greater joy that we get than seeing a person who clearly has some significant drug addiction and dependency issues obtain the right professional treatment and come out the other side as a person who has successfully tackled their drug issues and are on the road to taking back control of their normal, healthy and law abiding lives. This has occurred time and time again when we see drug dependents seek out counselling, intensive rehabilitation, psychological treatment or participation in the MERIT program.

Obviously such treatment and programs as discussed above have significant benefits in showing the Courts that offenders are seeking redemption by getting on top of their personal drug problems and seeking to turn their lives around so that they do not reoffend again in the future. Magistrates and Judges love to see proactive steps like this being taken by offenders and will absolutely take this into account when it comes time to sentencing the offender by offering a level leniency.

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Sydney Drug Lawyer Logo 350x350 copy copyCONTACT US: 

Sydney Drug Lawyer NSW

362-370 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW
(02) 9283 8620

http://sydneydruglawyer.com.au

Email: sydneydruglawyer@gmail.com

If you need further advice or assistance in relation to any of the above NSW Drug Law Defences please contact us on the above details.