With the country in the midst of a care crisis and 1 in 20 new mothers addicted to drugs or alcohol, should they be given the chance to turn their lives around and keep their children in their care?
Addicted: Last Chance Mums raises the question of whether mothers battling addiction can turn things around and keep their child in their care. The response from Trevi House, a residential rehabilitation unit in Plymouth, is a resounding yes.
Trevi House is one of the only rehabilitation units in the country that keeps mothers and their children together. The focus is on teaching and practising coping strategies, building a sense of community, breaking the cycle of addiction and a positive reintegration into society whilst laying the foundation to a child centric life view.
With only 10 beds, space is at a premium. Mothers wishing to enter the facility must first evidence to the assessment team that they are ready for change. This is no holiday camp – 40% don’t complete the programme and leave without their children.
There is undoubtedly a stigma attached to maternal substance misuse, which is challenged wholeheartedly by Trevi House, often with huge success. The statistics they provide suggest that mothers who retain care of their children whilst undergoing intensive rehabilitation are 76% more likely to overcome their addiction than those whose children are removed.
Of course, the paramount principle in any Children Act proceedings is the child’s welfare. Generally speaking, it can be argued that it will be in the child’s best interests to be given every realistic opportunity to remain within their birth family. The Children Act is clear that wherever possible, children should be brought up within their own families. Trevi House offers mothers fighting addiction a unique opportunity to make this happen, whilst at the same time seeking the intensive treatment that they need.
At the time of filming the BBC Panorama documentary (shown on BBC 1 at 8.30pm on 29th January), the facility was only half full. This suggests that Trevi House is an under-used resource that, whilst not a cheap or quick fix, should be seen as a worthwhile investment when looking at the bigger picture. In the long run it has potential to save local authorities money across the system.
The harsh reality is that mothers with an addiction remain subjected to criticism and judgement. However, the truth is that a little understanding and compassion goes a long way.
If you, or someone you know, is facing this challenge, please contact our Plymouth office on 01752 674999, or our Exeter office on 01392 421 777 and ask for one of the care team. You can also contact me direct on 01752 676962 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.