Addicted to helping

• Clinical psychologist Michael Tunnecliffe

FREMANTLE clinical psychologist Michael Tunnecliffe has been treating drug addicts for more than 30 years and has seen the devastating effects addiction can have on users and their families.

Mr Tunnecliffe and his colleague Kerryn Ashford–Hatherly will be giving a talk later this month on how family and friends can detect signs of addiction at East Fremantle’s Glyde-In community centre.

Having a better understanding of illegal drugs will mean people are better equipped to help addicts, Mr Tunnecliffe says.

“Families need to be educated in what addiction is and what it isn’t. We’ll talk about the basics of addiction and party drugs, things that are commonly on the street today.”

He’ll also explain why relapse is common, what treatment is the most effective and how to put strategies in place.

“Sensible logical things you can do to help,” Mr Tunnecliffe says.

“We talk about tough love; simple things like don’t give money.”

Paying for private treatment to avoid long queues in the public health system is a good option, he says.

“The younger and earlier you get into treatment the better.”

Families should also follow the old rule of not making threats unless they’re prepared to act on them, Mr Tunnecliffe says

“You have to be prepared to follow though…If an addict gets aggressive call the police.”

The talk will also look at the brain damage caused by regularly taking methamphetamine.

“It’s frightening because it steals people’s live–it steals their brains.”

Mr Tunnecliffe and Ms Ashford-Hatherly have more than 50 years combined clinical experience treating addiction, with clinics in Applecross and West Perth.

The talk is on May 23 at the Glyde-In, 42 Glyde St, 2-3.30pm. To book go to


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