Following families at Phoenix Futures' Specialist Family Service, the UK's only family rehab. Four mothers who are addicted to drugs must get clean or face losing their kids.
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In Sheffield, 12 families live together.
This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.
But these are no ordinary families.
And this is no ordinary house.
This is the only family rehab in the UK.
This is about your recovery.
This is about your children.
More children than ever are being taken into care
because their parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This place believes in giving them a second chance.
My mum said, before she got into rehab, failure is not an option.
Unlike any other rehab,
it helps mums and dads give up their addiction
while they care for their children.
My mum told me she would do whatever she could.
I want to get you back.
Happy birthday, Mum. Thank you.
Recovery will be tough.
But these parents know if they don't get clean,
they'll lose their children for good.
This is not a bail hostel.
You don't choose to stay in bed all day.
Following six months of treatment,
this is the story of addicted families
facing the hardest challenge of their lives.
Right now, your placement with your son hangs in the balance
over the next seven days.
Trying to take my kid, mate. Over my dead body.
If somebody wants to play games,
go and play them somewhere else,
because the stakes are too high here.
At Phoenix Futures Family Service,
parents and children stay in a therapeutic community,
confronting addiction together.
It's not easy to break the cycle of addiction.
The parents are often motivated by the fact
that they're here with the children.
They're their inspiration for them to stay clean,
to make positive changes, cos ultimately
they don't want to risk losing their children.
What we're offering is a chance to stay together as a family,
children to remain with parents.
The alternatives are, unfortunately, that children will be removed...
and put into foster care or adoption.
When mums and dads come to us, the parenting's all over the place,
their emotions are all over the place,
and this is the place
they need to be in order to give them...
the best opportunity to change their lives.
Been a bit of a nightmare journey, has it? Yeah.
Most parents seeking treatment at Phoenix are mothers,
and today there's a new arrival.
Tracie from Lancashire is a mother of eight.
She's come with her youngest, a two-year-old boy.
Yeah, don't, just leave it there, Tracie.
Honestly, don't worry about it.
We'll all get it sorted. Let's get you in here first.
What we need to do, as well, is sample you, OK?
So obviously, we need to make sure
that you've got medication that you use
in order for us to be able to prescribe you.
Do you? Yeah. OK. So, let's get your stuff sorted.
Come on, then. Here we go.
Tracie's had seven other children removed from her care.
Her current addiction is to powerful opiate-based painkillers.
This is Tracie, Sian.
Nice to meet you. You too, love.
Are you all right to take her for a cigarette?
You're going to be opposite Sian in the room,
so we thought it would be really nice, actually. Yeah. All right.
Brilliant. Thank you. Come this way.
So, how old's your little lad? About three?
No, he's just turned two.
Quite tall, isn't he?
He were prem. Was he?
Yeah, they said he had Downs Syndrome all the way through.
Right. And he didn't.
That was good then.
So what are you in for, if you don't mind me asking?
Just co-codamol, basically.
I'm addicted to co-codamol.
Right. Well bad.
That is the worst thing I've ever been addicted to.
The worst thing ever.
We're just searching our new admission's belongings.
We're an abstinence-based service, so
we don't want anybody bringing any drugs or alcohol in,
which is not uncommon when somebody first comes into treatment, because
they find it difficult to let go.
So, Tracie's telling us she's got nothing on her
that she shouldn't have, and so far we've not found anything.
It's bad, so it's my last chance.
I've got to prove I can do this.
I've come in this side and then by the time you've finished,
you'll watch me come out a better person.
A different person. You've caught me at the wrong time,
with no make-up on. SHE LAUGHS
Did you want me?
My stomach is ripping.
Two of them?
The programme has three stages.
The first is to detox and overcome the physical craving for drugs.
Tracie is given methadone, an opiate substitute.
The dose will be gradually reduced until, after a month,
she'll be substance-free.
Withdrawing is tough.
Not everyone will make it to the next stage.
Ripping pains right through my stomach.
Pains like I'm in slow labour.
Pains that I've not had since giving birth.
There are many rules to adjust to in the house.
While parents detox, they can only go out under strict supervision.
Mobile phones are banned
and contact with the outside world is restricted.
Just hang on a second. BABY CRIES
Look, let's speak to Daddy. Ready?
When I've done here, I'll be totally dependent on nothing.
Well, I got my medication last night, my methadone.
I'm just scared. I don't know.
I'm just frightened and scared.
So... I have never been as bad as this now. Yeah.
And that is quite common.
This is the longest I've done without them. Yeah.
Well, you know that the co-codamol is opiate-based?
Yeah. Similar to heroin.
But you're in safe hands.
You're not just being asked to stop everything,
cos that's not the right thing to do,
so we're going to be doing it controlled and slowly,
and with support.
So, as scary as it is, just take one step at a time.
I will. OK? Yeah.
Yeah. Lots of fluids.
Lots of food. Keep your energy levels up.
She's got a long history of substance misuse.
At 16 years old,
she says that she was introduced to drugs
by the father of her first child.
It's the co-codamol that she's saying is the issue for her.
She's taking in excess of about 20 tablets per day
and she's been doing that for about ten years.
Social Services became involved when Tracie was found overdosed,
accidentally, and she was in charge of her son at the time
and she was unresponsive.
What they don't want to do this minute in time
is remove the baby from her care.
However, you know, it's one of the things that might happen
if she doesn't make some changes.
Want a strawberry.
An important part of living as a community
is learning from parents at a more advanced stage of treatment.
Tracie shares a kitchen with Sian, who will be her mentor.
Yeah, I'm coming now.
You love peas, don't you?
I always give him a choice. SHE LAUGHS
I took the amphetamine to help cope
with seven kids and cleaning the house...
..because I knew they'd be knocking on my door.
But before that, I must admit, I was only ex...
PIECE OF CUTLERY DROPS
Sugar. 17 or 18 when I started it with Lee and Peter's dad
and Leelee was only a baby.
And the first time I had it, I liked it, so I were like...
I did heroin. I loved the feeling it gave me. What's it like?
You know when you have a drink of whisky when you're younger?
I don't like whisky. Well, you know when you've had shorts
when you were younger and it warms your inside?
You can feel the warming sensation
coming from your tummy all the way up your neck.
Your face goes red-hot and everything, and then you're sick,
well, some people are, but not a horrible sick.
And it's good? But, then when you're on one, you can do anything.
Do you know what I mean? Like, when you've had a certain amount of gear,
you can get up, you can clean your house, you can do everything.
It's when you're rattling, you need it,
you can't even get up to make yourself a cup of tea.
So, what does the crack do? Crack? I've often wondered this.
It's a stimulant. It gets your heart beating faster.
So why do people, like, take it?
Why? Because it's a balance.
One minute, you're down, like, you're, like, smacked-up.
The next minute you're up there.
Some people mix it together and inject it.
I always wanted to know that. Right. I'm going.
See you laters.
Oh! Good, big mouth.
That's nice. Clever.
Yeah. You like your bath, don't you?
Sian, a mother of three, is here with her baby, Kayden.
She's recovering from a 15-year addiction.
I was 22 when I got into heroin.
Coming from a little village, you're not very, er,
wise to the world.
I'd never even heard of heroin before.
It took me three weeks to become addicted.
At the time, all that I lived for was drugs.
I'd get the kids up,
get them ready for school...
..leave the house at ten past eight to drop Nicole off
at secondary school
and then make my way to the dealer's,
and I'd break my neck to get there.
All my focus was on getting to that flat before
anybody else got there.
And come hell or high water, that's what I was going to do.
I'd just get it and go home, erm...
..and switch myself off from the world.
Right. Pick your toys up.
Having detoxed and being substance-free,
Sian's earned an authorised visit.
First year clean in 15 years, so...
..it's quite something.
Look! Who's that?
Happy birthday, Mum!
Thank you. Give me a kiss.
Sian's daughters, 17-year-old Nicole and eight-year-old Ellie,
are being cared for by family while she's in rehab.
Nicole was just two when Sian started using heroin.
We hope you like your cake.
We put "Happy Birthday" in the middle.
And then we put all the candles.
You're 40, aren't you? LAUGHTER
When she was using drugs, we was all in denial.
Obviously, like, we didn't think she looked like a drug addict
because we was used to seeing her like that.
But then, looking back at her progress from when she
first started rehab to now, what she looks like is a dramatic change.
Like, I've got a photo on my phone and all of her cheekbones
are standing out, her eyes are sunken into her head.
She just looks poorly. She looks older than what she was.
You're too young to play with that.
I didn't give a shit if I looked a mess, if I stank of BO,
if I didn't do my hair.
As long as I could get in my car, get money and go out and score...
..that's what I lived for.
You said, "Will we ever see an end to this problem before we die?"
You know, and then you start thinking
about the children, what would their lives be? That's right.
The main gain, I think, I've got out from my mum's drug use
is not to take drugs, because I've seen what it's done to her life,
I've seen what it's done to her so-called friends' lives...
..so I know not to go down that path.
If there's no end to this, I'm afraid we've got to finish
it ourselves, ain't we?
Cos you can't keep on going indefinitely like this forever
and ever and ever. No, because it's taken over.
That's right, because, I mean...
It has been a big part of our life,
that in some ways it's ruined it, hasn't it?
I was fortunate in the respect that because my mum lived
in the next street to me, this was before Kayden was born,
that I'd go and drop Ellie and Nicole off there most days,
say that I was going to the chemist or just nipping
off to the shop, and...
..I could go out for hours.
My mum would be ringing my phone,
wanting to know where I was and I wouldn't answer it
because I didn't want it to spoil my buzz.
And I became selfish.
For a while, it was my mum that was more like a mum to my kids.
I find that difficult to accept now.
But I was quite a selfish person.
No, you can't get down, can you, because you'll be dirty.
Come here. Mum's got to go in a minute.
My mum said, quite a few times before she got into rehab,
"Failure is not an option," and she's stuck to that
and that's why I'm proud of her, because I don't think my mum
has really stuck to anything in her life before.
You're not coming. SIAN LAUGHS
I love you.
Yeah? Have you enjoyed yourself, then?
Are you glad you came?
It costs around ?50,000 for a family to go through treatment -
a bill usually met by their local authority.
Key workers are responsible for reporting back
to the social services.
You will have a key session with me every week. Yeah.
What I've done this morning, I've started looking through your
placement contract, which you will have got a copy of.
Well, you can have a copy... All I got was that thing through the post.
Yeah, well, that'll be this, placement plan.
I got one of them, but I won't even... I didn't even open it.
I got one of them, but I won't even... I didn't even open it.
I do not open them letters.
OK. Social services letters, I will not open.
You need to be aware of what's going on.
This is a plan which involves social services, us,
you and your son.
Erm, if you were to walk out...
I couldn't survive. ..you wouldn't be able to leave with your son.
Are you aware of that?
Yeah. Yeah. But that means there's a lot of pressure on you as well.
I didn't know I'd end up with all this, social services.
If I'd have known that, I would've kept the implant in.
I don't regret him, but if I'd have known that
I wouldn't have got pregnant.
And we'll leave it there, because I think you've done really well.
Absolutely. Right, good for you. Sleep while you can,
while your son's asleep. Thank you.
I would imagine people would not understand why people repeatedly go
on to have children when they've not looked after the first, the second,
the third, the fourth.
But whatever has happened, she will, no doubt,
be carrying a lot of guilt and lots of issues about that.
So, whilst she's focusing on her child,
that's great, but we'll need to go back and maybe unpick some of her
history and work through, sort of, that process of, you know,
from child one to child eight, what went wrong.
Why can't I be the mother to the rest of them children
the way I'm mothering the baby?
Surely they're going to resent me for that. I would if it was my mum.
I'd be like, "You've dropped all of us here and you've still got one."
I'd be angry, I'd be mad. I'd be like... I wouldn't speak to her.
But some of the kids are like, "It's fine, Mum."
Billy always says, when I say, "I'm sorry, I've been a bad mum."
"You were never a bad mum."
Tracie's other children are now aged between ten and 20.
18-year-old Billy was at home with his mum and siblings
until he was six.
She'd drink at night. Weekends were worse,
where she'd go to a pub and we'd get dragged along with her.
And then she'd stay behind and then she'd go somewhere else,
to her mate's party, and then she'd finally come home.
So when they came stumbling in, it was just a case of,
"Right, what can we do to terrorise them?"
Get them out, quick as possible.
It wasn't a bad place to live, it wasn't a bad family.
Just too many children,
not enough parenting.
Billy was separated from his brothers and sisters
when they were taken into care.
Just wish she was there at times.
But she couldn't have been, so...
I think about 13, 14, I realised...
..she weren't going to be there for a while and I weren't going to be
with her until I was 18, until I was out of care.
Are you going to hold these shoes?
She always said to me that my brother is not going to go anywhere.
And I believe her in that, I don't think he is.
Thank the Lord.
A new resident has arrived from London.
Natalie has an 18-year addiction to heroin and crack cocaine.
Her dad Keith has brought her to rehab after social services
issued an ultimatum - get clean or risk losing your children.
I managed to juggle my addiction and being a mum,
but now it's caught up with me.
Did you count all the beads, Anya?
It's become more of a struggle...
..emotionally, physically, mentally.
Three, four, five, six!
Natalie will go through treatment with her daughters Madison,
aged three, and Anya, who's two.
It doesn't mean to say that I've picked drugs over my children,
it just means that I've struggled to face all my demons.
For so long I've been controlled by either drugs
or within a violent relationship,
so I know to overcome drugs, I've got to overcome them.
And I've been running away from them for years
and I've always had an excuse not to face them.
Because drugs is just easier.
Nat is ashamed of herself.
She's ashamed of the situation she's in.
She's ashamed to...
..be honest and straight with me, in the past.
I believe she's spoken more to her mother.
But then her mother...
..as mothers I believe do, protect their children more.
She started to take drugs when she was 13 years of age,
which spiralled into an addiction to heroin at the age of 18,
and crack cocaine.
She'd been using more frequently than the local authority knew about,
so she was saying that she'd got a period of abstinence,
so she was sticking just to her prescription.
Quite interestingly, it's been revealed that she'd been
using pretty much every day.
So it was a little bit touch-and-go whether the local authority
were going to pull the plug really, in terms of supporting her,
and just go into proceedings and remove the children.
She was a manager at a children's nursery and she managed
to hold that down quite well, until it was discovered that she'd
got a heroin addiction.
So obviously that became problematic, so she lost her job.
Come on, then, shall we go and say goodbye to Grandad? Bye, Grandad.
Natalie won't be allowed the distraction of any visitors
until she's finished her month-long detox.
Yeah, Mummy's putting the little light on, look.
There we go. OK, so you've got the little light on.
Right, lay down then.
'You never give praise to an addict.
'You'd always tell them that they're shit, they're scum, dirty, rotten,
'But just because we're addicts doesn't mean to say
'we have any different feelings or emotions than you do.
'Sometimes you have to be at rock-bottom,
'or life gets so bad and awful that you can turn things around
Take you in nursery? Nursery.
The youngest children are looked after in the on-site nursery.
Thank you, bye-bye. Love you.
Excuse me, see you soon. Have a nice morning.
And now their parents can concentrate on their recovery
and the start of the second stage of treatment.
They must attend daily group therapy sessions
that openly discuss their past as addicts.
What I'd like you to do, and write on the back of this sheet of paper,
is to think back to a specific day where you were using heavily.
To look at how much substances, kind of,
were a priority in your life.
Between about half seven and nine in the morning,
I'd just be chilling on the sofa whilst the girls are
and waiting for the dealer to come on again.
Once the girls were at nursery, I'd probably be scoring all day,
maybe up to five, six times a day.
At times, I become paranoid,
I started hallucinating and thinking things were crawling over me.
Just cos I'd been smoking, honestly, nonstop.
I wouldn't eat and sleep for days.
I'd be vomiting.
But that's the thing that got me to the doctors,
cos I kept on passing out.
Right. So how do you feel looking at you today?
Cos I love my kids.
It's not trying to make them feel bad or anything, but ultimately,
they need to realise what they were doing
before coming in and why it's not OK.
Tell me, what's going on?
Why are we being silly today?
Cos people might try and glorify it a bit and justify it a bit,
but actually you can't do that.
You need to strip it back and really see it for what it was,
cos it's not glamorous at all.
Please go play outside, darling, She's having time-out.
Parenting in itself is the hardest thing in the world,
so when somebody is distracted by substances, relationships,
other things going on,
the children don't get the emotional attention
and availability of parents,
and that is very often the hidden harm, I guess,
because that's what you can't see.
Darling, I'm not going to fight with you about the chair.
You need to let it go. SHE CRIES
Natalie often went out
and left the children in the house alone,
for hours on end.
Upon arrival, Natalie had quite a battle with the elder child
because she quite rightly, had assumed herself the boss.
Because, you know, on occasion, she had been the boss.
So obviously, when they came to the family service
and Mum suddenly became the boss,
she had several dirty protests,
such as pooing on the carpet,
pooing on the kitchen table, to stamp her authority.
Can I have a cuddle?
Thank you, because I really don't want to have to make you
sit on the chair again, OK?
Hello. See, I told you I wouldn't be long, didn't I?
If Natalie is to keep her kids,
she must conquer her addiction and prove she can give them the care
and stability they need.
People will ask why you couldn't stop.
You know, "You nearly lost your children."
I put myself, my family, my children at danger.
I was unable to provide.
I put myself in risky situations, my children.
And I experienced violence, intimidation...
And I just couldn't do it no more.
I was physically, emotionally, mentally tired.
INTERVIEWER: What might have happened had you carried on?
I think I would be six foot under.
Done, right. That's it, whisk it round gently.
Let me do it.
Got to get all those lumps out, darling.
Darling? Mine! You do that after.
Are we going? Mummy's got a headache, hasn't she?
Are you going to John? Thanks.
How are you doing?
Tracie is nearing the end of her detox.
But she's finding the month-long withdrawal tough.
Because I have to go and drink this crap, Methadone.
Because I've never been on it and I've always known it to be
for heroin users and stuff.
I've never touched heroin, why am I on this crap?
Put the bike back, good boy.
It makes me feel dirty.
Once the Methadone has finished and that detox potentially has ended,
that's often where people really sort of dip,
in terms of their wellbeing, especially emotionally,
and that's when they're at their most vulnerable
and we're at risk of losing them at that point.
In prison we've got a snooker table,
we can eat in our room, we can have a fag, do whatever.
Here, I'm missing the bars, Jess.
But this isn't prison, this is treatment.
Treatment? It doesn't feel like it, it feels like being punished.
This is... I know it is, but I stay.
This is what?
This is my last day, Jess. I know it is.
And there is no stopping me. I will ring them social services.
No, I can't do it.
Yeah, taking my boy it's going to hurt me.
For how long?
I'll get over it, I'll drink, I'll do something.
I can't do this, Jess, it's worse than a prison.
Where is the support here? There's no support, Jess.
So you don't want to be here?
I'm going to go and get smashed out of my head and drink.
OK. If you would normally turn to alcohol or drugs,
for comfort or to block the pain... Block the pain.
..or hide the fear or whatever,
it's natural that you're going to feel like you want to do that.
And that may be something that happens more than once,
it may be something that happens in the future.
What you're here to do, is look at how you cope and manage with
those kind of situations. Yeah.
And a lot of that is done through the groups, your key sessions,
your life story work.
Because beating yourself up continually, because of the guilt,
will do what to you? Because it's that painful. It's like, Tracie,
just give me... I don't know that it'll always go, or that it'll go
completely. It won't go completely. What it will do,
is you'll learn how to accept... To cope with it. Yeah.
..that, you know, that is gone,
and that you can't go back and make those changes in the past.
What you can do now is shape your future,
with all your kids, your relationships.
She's just sad and she's just guilty about her eldest children and...
..she just needs to be able to share that and work through it.
Tracie's oldest child, Leelee, helped to raise her siblings
when Tracie was incapable.
Leelee basically mothered my kids.
Being a mum at the age of eight, that's not nice.
It's not nice. So Leelee's had it hard.
I've never known a child to have it so hard like that.
Bring six kids up, but you're eight years old?
Stay off school cos your mum can't cope.
"I'll pay you to stay off school, Leelee."
Cos I used to miss her going to school.
"I'll give you 20 quid, come on, let's go down town."
Mums don't do that.
Natalie has successfully detoxed.
No, there's no more!
It's all gone!
Yeah. Yay! There you go. Thank you. You're welcome.
You've laid the first layer for Natalie,
she's got a lot of work to do.
No more medicines!
Her years of addiction have suddenly caught up with her
and it's all kind of overwhelming.
But Natalie has very little self-belief and a lot of issues.
Not just substance misuse issues, relationship issues,
emotional ill-health issues, all sorts of things
that she will have to continue working on.
Natalie's dad is visiting,
as she's confronting emotions that have come to the surface
now she's drug-free.
Of what you're writing down, your feelings, I'd like to know more.
I just don't want to hurt you, Dad.
That's something that I've got to cope with.
The thing is, I want to share your feelings...with me.
And that way I can understand you more and realise what the whole
situation has been about, yeah?
After you left, I was not taught...
You mean when we got divorced? Me and your mum, yeah.
Yeah, when you guys left, it was OK to drink, it was OK to do drugs.
Um...I know, because you came with me, didn't you?
No, no, when I went with Mum... Right. ..that's what I'm saying,
I was coming home drunk and she'd laugh. I was going in pissed,
drunk to school, she'd laugh.
You know, she had me rolling joints.
You know, and to me it was OK. Yeah.
She was going out,
she was going through that party stage and so I thought,
"Well, the only thing to cope with all this, and all this and all that,
"is just to block it out."
Yeah. Because I couldn't find a way out.
People go through things, you know, and they have to cope with them.
They have to get themselves back together, so...
In my mind initially, one would say,
"Well, why can't you cope with things?" Yeah?
All I knew was my head was messed up.
You know, from a young age, I'd just...I was put on antidepressants
from...I was in my early 20s when
they started putting me on antidepressants.
You know, and...
Now, because I've even just wrote that out, I can kind of,
not let go of it, I know I still need to deal with it,
but it's these things that... that's what I'm here to do.
There's another Natalie with a troubled past who's seeking help to
keep her family together.
She sought refuge in drugs after
being sexually abused as a child, by her uncle.
I was a baby when abuse first started.
A real, small baby. You know?
And it went all the way up until I was a teenager.
It was more than one person that had abused me, not just my uncle,
but other people.
And I said something once, but they didn't believe me.
I was angry and I was sad, alone, I felt isolated.
It built up to a point where I needed a release, and when I took
drugs, I couldn't feel nothing.
I didn't think about what happened.
And the first time I ever took heroin, the feeling of oblivion,
it was a really good feeling.
Not feeling nothing.
The hatred and the loathing I had of myself was so intense that,
you know, I couldn't cope with that any more.
So taking heroin, and that going-into-space feeling, was...
it was amazing, at the time.
Natalie has two sons -
three-year-old Sunny and 14-year-old Jay.
Let's do it!
She wouldn't eat for say, two weeks, three weeks.
I knew that one day, like,
she isn't going to wake up, kind of thing.
And I thought,
"If she carries on the way she is, then it's going to be soon."
But I didn't want to just wake up one day and then, like,
the police would be standing at the door and they'd just be taking me
and Sunny away from my mum. It was...it was very scary.
It was sad as well. It was very sad.
I looked after Sunny a lot of the time, because she wasn't well, and
I would think, like, she would, like, forget that she's even with
Sunny and leave him in the park and stuff like that.
I didn't want anything bad happening to Sunny, or my family.
I know that she ain't going to go back to drugs because of our family.
We love her and she knows that, and she loves us.
So I reckon that
she wouldn't go back to it because of that reason.
She wouldn't want our family broke apart again for drugs.
Natalie A, as she's known in the house, has been in rehab with Sunny
for two months while Jay stays behind with his dad.
She volunteered to come here and got funding for a three-month course
through her drug counsellor.
But looking back at the experiences that led to her addiction is hard.
One of the things that we do ask, is have a look at certain events
that have taken place in their lives.
Some of that looks like sexual abuse,
it might be that their parents were substance misusers and they kind of
experience maybe domestic abuse.
They might be children themselves that have been in care.
They could have felt abandonment, you know, the fact that they didn't
have a sense of identity or belonging.
The link between trauma and substance misuse,
we can't ignore that actually, you know, it is a high factor.
You weren't to blame for what your uncle did to you.
And nobody can take that pain away from you, unfortunately,
we can't take it away.
But what we can do is help you to sort of work through.
So how old were you when all of this stopped?
So it stopped at 15?
When did you have your first relationship, then?
I was 13. Right, OK.
So nobody's ever been held to account for what they've done
to you, and does that make you feel angry as well?
To a certain extent, yeah, of course it does. Who are you angry at?
The people who done it, people that didn't protect me.
My mum, the police, you know?
Myself, because I wasn't strong enough to stop it.
Why do you think you're at fault,
why do you think you could have done anything about that?
I don't know... You were a child.
And adults are supposed to be there to look after you, to care for you,
to protect you, not to abuse you.
Are you going to allow what's happened in the past to destroy
your life? I can't, because anything that destroys mine,
it destroys Jay's and Sunny's, too.
It's making some sense of it all now and just working through.
How do you start to move on with your life?
So you'll get there in the end. Well done.
Thank you. Go and get some air. Thank you, Alison.
Speak to you later. Yeah.
Parents free of drugs for the first time in years must learn to resist
temptation. At first, they're only trusted to be out while supervised.
But Phoenix hope that experiencing the first taste of simple family
pleasures will speed their recovery.
A lot of them, they will never have done anything like this, because
they would've been very tied to the home and where they are,
because they'll need, you know, what they need.
So it's about getting them out and showing what you can do, really.
And, you know, people really genuinely enjoy it.
I want them to see that there's life beyond substances.
You know, using heroin day in, day out,
is really a horrible way to live.
I just want them to understand that
you don't have to live like that any more.
Being normal, it's exciting, it's ace.
I always thought I'd never be able to have a life like this.
But just watching, he's enjoying it.
But, yeah, without medication, best life ever.
This way. This way.
This way, babe. Let's go and get some pennies.
Leaving the house without the staff is the next stage of trust.
Random drug tests are carried out in the house.
One reveals that Natalie A and another resident have used
crack cocaine and heroin while out unaccompanied.
I was at Tesco, and I see a man...
I just went up to him and said to him, "Can you get me anything?"
And it was literally an impulse that literally went through my brain,
And then I went up to a park up the road and done what I done.
They went off to use the public toilet,
and they took the kids with them,
and they shared care of the children while they were using the drugs.
Which is really sad for Sunny to be back in a situation where he's
exposed to that and, you know,
he's kind of seeing the emotion and the aftermath really, from Mum.
All I wanted to do was escape from everything.
From responsibility, from the whole programme,
from all the thoughts in my head, cos my head sometimes gets
really loud and then all the noise around me is just,
it's overwhelming and I can't take it sometimes.
And I just wanted everything to go quiet for a little bit.
Dinger Mouse! It's not Dinger Mouse, it's Danger Mouse.
When an addict in rehab lapses,
it's thought to jeopardise the recovery of everyone else.
Natalie must now face the group.
Because of the events that happened at the end of last week, concerning
Natalie, we can't just pretend it hasn't happened,
because it's like an elephant in the room, isn't it?
I want to try and help you with that, and I would hope that the rest
of the community feel the same. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
You know, a craving is really strong, especially if you see it
in front of you. But you still have the power of thought.
You were still at that point where you could've turned your back and
walked away. You're in recovery and lapses happen through recovery.
How can a load of addicts that live together not understand that?
That's what I don't... You seem quite angry, Nat. No...
Why are you angry?
I'm not angry. I just feel unsupported, for all of last week,
and then that happened on Friday and then certain people are judging us
on Friday night. I were disappointed in you.
I hold my hands up, yeah, I were.
I wasn't angry, I was disappointed in you, Natalie.
But you don't have the right to be disappointed in me.
What right do you have to be...?
Well, I were disappointed. But what right do you have?
Why has she got no right to be disappointed? Why?
Because she doesn't have the right to be disappointed in me.
I'm disappointed in me.
My kids have the right to be disappointed in me.
No-one else has the right to be disappointed in me.
No-one else has the right to expect anything from me.
No-one. OK. I felt disappointed.
Why? I did feel disappointed. No-one else has the right to feel
disappointed in me. It always... You know, I've been here a long
time, and it always makes me feel upset.
I'm already punishing myself enough.
My own 14-year-old son understood the whole situation.
He weren't angry. He wasn't disappointed.
He was like, "It's OK, Mum. It happens. You're in recovery."
How can a 14-year-old understand that and not one other person
that's living in this house, doing the same thing as me,
not understand that? How?
I'm not sure where Natalie comes from, really,
saying, "You've got no right to either be angry,
"disappointed or upset with me."
They have got every right to be angry and disappointed and upset,
and they do feel that.
Because she's used,
Natalie's told she'll have to leave the house in a week unless her
funders are persuaded she deserves a second chance.
I have written a letter of appeal, which I wrote today...
..and fingers crossed they choose to keep me in the service,
because if they don't, then I don't know where things will end up.
I'll probably end up back at square one, because it means going back to
London, going back to that flat.
You know, the same surroundings and that,
and the boys being removed from my care.
I wasn't angry with her.
I was more glad that she had told me that she had relapsed than her
keeping it to herself, cos then,
if she wouldn't have told me, I wouldn't have been there to tell her
that mistakes happen.
She just needs to carry on going and just stay positive, and try her best
not to relapse again.
Before the week is up,
both Natalie's drug worker and the Phoenix management come to a
decision about whether she can stay on the programme.
Take a seat.
So, I wanted to obviously have a conversation with you, and it's
important, of course, that we get this kind of decision to you, rather
than leaving you waiting. So, based on what we think as a service,
we are prepared to keep you here and continue to work with you.
OK? Thank you. So, what that means for us is that we're going to be
very clear with you about expectations. I agree.
I'm really sorry for what I've done, and I know I made a big mistake.
I messed up all of the hard work that I've done,
but I promise you I will make it better.
I will fix it. OK. SHE SOBS
Thank you. OK.
And let's get back on track. This is so important to me.
Not just me, but to my boys as well,
and over the weekend, I've really punished myself on this.
I know what I done, and I will fix it and make it right.
It's very serious, isn't it, you know, in the sense of, for you,
the stakes are very high.
You know, and I guess it's just happened at a time when you're in a
supportive environment and we're able to support you and help you
through that. And there's a lot more work I think that we need to do with
you, Natalie. Yeah. But if it does happen again, then we will
be in a position of asking you to leave almost immediately.
Yeah, obviously. OK. I know. Thank you. All right.
Yeah, that feels...
That was overwhelming, because I don't believe a lot in myself,
so because I don't have a lot of belief in myself,
when someone's telling me that or saying to me that,
"We'll give you another chance because we believe
"that you can do this,"
it's very overwhelming, very overwhelming.
How do you know when somebody's going to do well or not?
You don't. You can have somebody that's done really,
really well in their treatment
and is determined to change their life, and sustain those changes,
leave and go back to
their old habits, within hours and days of leaving.
The six months is just a dress rehearsal.
The hard work begins out in the community.
Sian is at the end of her treatment, and is braced
to return to her village. There she will face the temptation
of drugs being easily available.
The concerns that I have, um...
..are just people...
not respecting that I've been through rehab.
As long as they get what they need,
they're not bothered who they take down,
and I was like that once as well.
So the best thing I can do to give myself the best possible start is to
not...not put myself in a vulnerable situation.
The area that she grew up in,
and it's the area where she got her drugs in,
so she knows every location where to go and get her heroin from,
but I do believe that she won't do it.
Because quite a few of my mum's friends have had their kids
taken off them.
Sian will stay with her parents until she gets a place of her own.
That's you done. Don't cry.
She aims to stay clean
and hopes to live with all her children again soon.
Bye! Good luck!
As families move through the programme, and some successfully
leave with their children,
those left behind take on fresh responsibilities.
Right, come on, then. Let's do cleaning check.
One important job is to make sure everyone's cleaning properly.
Check the bin. All nice and clean.
Can you write on this one? Tick!
Tick! Tick! That's it.
Anya, out the washing machine, please.
Natalie's new-found self discipline
has had a calming effect on the girls.
Come and stand over here.
I'm focused and determined.
I think about my routine, what needs to be done by certain times.
I follow that each and every day.
But the final stage of treatment for Natalie
will be her toughest task yet.
She must write an honest and revealing account of her life to
learn from past mistakes
and so avoid resorting to drugs when troubled.
It's just about letting go, letting go of shame, guilt, and moving
forward, leaving the past where it is and being able to accept the
decisions and bad situations you've been in.
"I'm unable to remember a lot of fond memories from my early
"childhood. There was domestic violence between Mum and Dad,
"which I often witnessed.
"It was very scary, especially as I was around five years old.
"At the age of seven,
"the violence got to a point where me and my mum and my brother went to
"stay at my Uncle John's for a few nights.
"It wasn't long after this when my mum and dad finally divorced.
"From age 13, I started dating an older guy.
"Seeing as he was five years older than me, I felt protected,
"loved and safe, but looking back on it now,
"I was just a child dating an adult.
"I was searching for security and love.
"I discovered drinking, tablets, shoplifting,
"ecstasy, and often went to school drunk,
"following a...swallowing a mouthful of pills.
"During the club scene, I soon started on cocaine,
"speed and poppers, and nonstop drinking.
"One Saturday night, me and my friends went out clubbing.
"That night I was...dragged into a flat by a man in his 30s,
"and raped for the entire evening until the morning.
"It finished when he threw me out with my ripped clothes, and told me
"to get out once he opened the door.
"I felt resentment towards my mum." SHE SOBS
"It took me six years to tell her about that night.
"Her response didn't surprise me,
"and began telling me that I probably deserved it."
THE OTHERS APPLAUD
It's all part of relapse prevention, and without the knowledge
of triggers and cravings and how to cope without substances,
there is more likelihood that somebody's going to relapse,
and their life story,
there are lots of things held within somebody's life story that are going
to be triggers to them using.
The variety and range of emotions that somebody's going to feel when
they're writing that are enormous.
It easier just to pick up a drink and swallow a handful of pills than
what it is to deal with all these negative thoughts within your head.
You know, and I'm trying to understand my own addictions,
my own fears, anxieties, plus my own mental health.
I'm trying to understand that,
and some things are becoming clearer now, of how I couldn't manage that,
and what led me to addiction.
Oh, careful! Aah!
Yeah, you be a good boy for your mum, yeah?
Natalie A has decided she's got all she wants from rehab.
Oh, careful! Careful!
Despite recently succumbing to the temptation of drugs,
she plans to leave immediately with Sunny.
I'm ready for this. I need... I'm done here.
I don't even... But you only had a relapse the other week.
Hm? You only did that thing the other week.
I think I needed that lapse to make me realise that I know that I'm
strong enough to be without this.
I done that and I knew it was the biggest mistake of my life,
and I'm not going to make that mistake again.
I've got way too much to lose.
Well, you've got your head screwed on, haven't you?
I'm not going to lie. I'm scared.
Of course I am. I'm nervous.
But I'm ready for the next challenge.
I'm not sure she's fully thought that through.
I will talk to her about it,
but the way I see it at the moment is that she's completely made up her
mind that this is her decision. She wants to leave.
That's why I think it's important we can sit down and discuss the pros
and cons, and the impact on Sunny,
as well, which we have to take into account.
Natalie's drug worker,
who supported her reprieve and provided funding for
three more months, is alarmed to hear of her decision.
I have got my head in, still, in the right space.
I'm not thinking about going out and using.
You can't just bring up concerns cos I've said I'm going to leave.
It doesn't matter, because no-one can just take Sunny from me.
You can't just come and take him unless there's a real concern that
I'm going to hurt him, that I'm putting him in an unsafe
environment, that I'm using.
Cherie, it doesn't matter what you say.
I'm going. End of.
How do you feel? Where are we going to live?
We'll find a new home.
Look at me. You're going to go to a new school, yeah?
Are you excited? No. No?
You're not excited?
But you know that it doesn't matter where we are,
it's always going to be me and you and JJ,
cos we're a family, aren't we?
We'll have lots of fun, yeah?
Start a new life.
Me, you and your brother.
She's very firm in saying she's going to continue in her recovery,
and she doesn't want to use, and she wants the best for Sunny.
Given the incident that happened, what, two weeks ago?
It does cause concern, yeah.
It's pretty worrying, with Natalie.
Staff have no power to keep Natalie in rehab.
And social services don't consider the risk to her children great
enough to seek protection of them through the court.
Natalie and Sunny can leave unchallenged.
I can't say forever that I'm going to be clean - no addict can.
At the moment, I'm happy being clean and I want to do well.
Like, on my estate, there was a lot of addicts,
there was a lot of drug dealers.
I feel scared about my sons living around somewhere like this,
..what they can get themselves into, but also I hope that my sons will be
stronger than I was and that...
..through what I've been through and what they've seen me go through,
hopefully, that they will take a different path,
Come on, then. Yes, yes! Freedom! Go on, then, out we go.
Today, we're going to pack our suitcases.
What might we need in a new house?
Today is about introducing the concept of moving from here to their
new family home.
It may be difficult to understand the concept that home, to a child,
may not necessarily be something that is a positive thing.
Hopefully, new house, new environment, new start,
will give a little bit of confidence that it's not going to be the same
as previously, because it'll be a different setting.
And that's the best we can hope for, really.
Right, is this your case? Come on, then.
Yeah, we're leaving it here for...ready to pack up.
I've seen a massive development in her confidence.
When she initially come to us, Natalie, you know, she was quite
quiet, a little bit subdued, and
quite uncertain in terms of her relationships.
However, as she's moved through the programme,
we've really seen her developing confidence and really blossom to the
point where she's leaving us now, ready to go back into the community,
she's got the children with her, you know,
and the changes that she's made have just been marvellous.
It's a very special and important day for you,
so let's not fill it full of stresses and stuff.
And what else do we need? Oh, it doesn't fit in my case!
There's lots of anxieties when somebody's leaving us,
and lots of mixed emotions, as you can imagine.
You know, there's quite a bit of fear, I suppose, about the unknown
and the future, mixed with the fact that they're leaving somewhere
really stable, with people that they're familiar with,
with lots of support.
There's a massive amount at stake for people, you know,
if they get it wrong.
Natalie and the girls are starting a new life as a family
on the Kent coast.
Bounce! That's your pillow!
It's been really busy, moving
and packing, cleaning,
settling the girls.
I was actually sitting here last night,
and I was thinking, it's been a long while that I haven't had to wake up
and think that I had to score in the morning.
And I don't feel vulnerable any more.
I know I mustn't be complacent with that.
I know I've got to avoid the risky situations,
but now I can notice them more.
Ooh, give me a kiss and a cuddle. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mwah!
I've got confidence in myself,
self-esteem and self-belief.
You know, I feel strong, I don't feel weak and vulnerable and...
you know, need to have crazy people in my life, basically.
Mum, sit on my bed.
Lay down, then.
Given the right environment and given the right support,
anybody could change.
If families don't come here,
keeping them in the system can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The cost of keeping children in local authority care,
the cost in terms of being in prison, the cost to the NHS -
More than three quarters of the parents who come here complete the
programme and leave for a new future with their children.
You'd better take care of Junior. You too.
It's Tracie's time to go home with her son.
We're going home!
I see people having to face their past, substance-free.
And we see some amazing changes with
our families whilst they're here with us.
And they leave with the real hope that they can keep themselves
drug-free, safe and well, and also their children the same.
Bye, guys! Thank you, everyone!
Discover more about social work and supporting vulnerable families.
..and follow the links to the Open University.
In a large house in Sheffield, 12 families live together. But Phoenix Futures' Specialist Family Service is no ordinary house. And these are no ordinary families. This is the only family rehab in the UK - a place where parents addicted to drugs or alcohol come with their children to change their lives and determine their futures. They have six months to get clean and prove that they can parent their children. It is their last chance to keep them. Filmed over a year, with unprecedented access to staff and residents, this two-part series follows several families from the beginning to the end of their treatment. They arrive as a family unit - whether they leave as one is up to them.
This first film tells the story of four mothers who have spent years addicted to drugs - and have reached the end of the line. It is time to try to become sober parents to their young children, or face losing them for good. As we follow them through detox and recovery at this unique place, we discover what it takes for them to change. As they learn to live without drugs, they have to come to terms with the past - what has brought them here and what impact their addiction has had on their families and their children.
Central to the story are the children's voices. Each mum also has older children that are living beyond the house. These kids have all grown up with addicted parents and they provide a unique perspective on addiction, as they have seen and experienced it. A mother of eight arrives. Seven of her children no longer live with her and she has come with her youngest, a two-year-old. She is addicted to powerful opiate-based painkillers and has to endure a painful detox before she can begin recovery. After losing seven children, she is determined to keep her eighth, but she is finding it tough.
Another arrival enters with her two young daughters. She is here 'to face her demons', but going back to the reasons she began using in the first place is one of the hardest things she has ever done. After years of addiction, she is at rock bottom and is fighting to keep her children.
One of the mums is here with her baby son. Her older daughters are staying with family while she goes through treatment. Addicted to heroin for 15 years, she is clean for the first time and determined to stay that way. But she is going back to the village where all the dealers know her. Staying clean will be a different story.
And another mum is coming to terms with a traumatic past and a heroin addiction that took away her pain, for a short while. It is not the answer though and she has to get clean for her two sons.
This is a therapeutic community, where addicted families share one house. Recovering together, confronting addiction together and facing their own and each other's problems every single day, this is the toughest challenge of their lives. This rehab believes these parents deserve a second chance. 79% of families complete the programme. Following six months of treatment, we discover whether four mums with years of addiction behind them can change the drug habits of a lifetime - and keep their children.