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  Inside Out - West: Monday September 13, 2004

GOING CLEAN

Joe Bell
Can he kick his £400 per day habit?
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Inside Out West enters the world of drug addiction as we follow Joe, a drug user, through rehabilitation. Can he overcome his £400 a day habit and break free from his addiction?

In 2003 reporter Scott Ellis was invited to make a film about Joe Bell's addiction. He and his girlfriend Lisa were in the depths of a desperate habit.

Now Joe has had enough, but can he leave drugs - and Lisa - behind?

Overwhelming addiction

Joe and Lisa have been addicts for over 10 years. They regularly take crack and heroin, funded by Joe's thieving and Lisa's prostitution.

"Crack" Facts

Pure cocaine was first extracted from the leaf of the Erythroxylon Coca Bush, which grows primarily in Peru and Bolivia, in the mid 19th Century

There are two chemical forms of cocaine: hydrochloride salt and freebase

Hydrochloride salt, or powdered cocaine, dissolves in water and, when abused, can be taken intravenously (by vein) or intranasally (in the nose)

Freebase refers to a compound that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. The freebase form of cocaine is smokable

Crack is the street name given to the freebase form of cocaine that has been processed to a smokable substance

The term "crack" refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked

Source: Drug Rehabs

The pair are no longer together - Joe has decided to try turn his life around.

He wanted a film to be made about his journey back to normality as a warning to others.

The life he has lead for the last decade is something he doesn't want anyone else to have to experience.

With such an overwhelming habit Joe believes his only hope is to go into rehabilitation. He is sent to Broadway Lodge.

The journey begins

Set in the peaceful surrounds of a country house in Weston-super-Mare, Broadway Lodge has been helping sufferers since 1974.

The registered charity offers treatment and counselling services for those with drug and alcohol addictions as well as people with eating and codependency disorders.

It is known as one of the top rehabilitation centres in Europe but can it help Joe rid himself of years of drug abuse?

Although the world of rehabilitation is private, Inside Out is given permission to follow Joe as he enters Broadway Lodge to begin his journey.

Seeing as Scott can't be with Joe all day he gives him a video camera to record his own diary.

No soft option

Although it sets out to help and empathise with people and their problems, Broadway Lodge is not a holiday camp.

The rules are strict. Any drug use or violence means an addict is ejected immediately.

Joe will be helped by his counsellor Charma, a straight talking Scottish woman.

Joe will see Charma every day during his stay at Broadway Lodge but his treatment is not isolated.

Each day patients join in two group meetings, where opening up to others about drug addiction leads to close friendships.

It's all part of the treatment.

Sharing experiences from a place addicts know all too well.

Gaining trust

Although the rehabilitation centre is tough on behaviour it still aims to build confidence in its patients.

Group of people at Broadway Lodge
Patients are able to enjoy the peaceful surroundings at Broadway Lodge

"I really feel trusted in this place," says Joe as he holds up a large bunch of keys.

Patients are encouraged to lock up after themselves as they come and go, so are given a set of keys to the whole facility.

As Joe completes his day's video report he muses over an ironic fact.

"Six months ago I wouldn't be sitting here talking to this camera - I would be stealing this camera," he admits.

Two weeks on

Joe has gone two weeks without drugs but is finding it tough.

He sees his counsellor every day but it is becoming a battle of wills.

"Every day he tries to wear me down," his counsellor Charma says. "But I am aware when it is happening."

"If anyone was iffy about selling to me I would just show them the track marks on my arms or the injection marks on my body."
Joe Bell

Joe is finding comfort at Broadway Lodge but just venturing out for a trip to the shops reminds him of his life on drugs.

As he walks around the streets he knows so well, Joe can't help but think of his days spent trying to score.

Allegations fly

Week three sees Joe's behaviour become somewhat erratic. Staff are concerned and his counsellor asks Joe if he has been using.

"I was quite offended. I thought she could see my commitment," Joe says.

Despite his adamant stance Joe is tested for drugs.

He is clean, but his behaviour earns him a written warning.

Living under constant close scrutiny is hard for Joe. He isn't finding the strict routine easy and the treatment is difficult for him.

Mist begins to clear

Five weeks off drugs and Joe is beginning to think much more clearly. However, a more centred way of thinking, without the cloud caused by drugs, brings back painful memories.

Joe is finding it emotionally hard to deal with how he treated his mother, Mary.

Joe Bell
Joe Bell found it hard to deal with his past life

"I'm ashamed. Emotional blackmail is what I used to use to get what I needed - which was drugs," he says.

Reporter Scott Ellis spoke to Joe's mother before Joe began rehabilitation.

"I have been with him when he was taking drugs," she said. "It was the first thing he did when he got home."

Looking back at how he used his mother's love is tough for Joe, but the pair have become much closer since he entered Broadway Lodge and they now speak on the phone every night.

Joe's realisation of his past ill treatment of others offers hope for Mary. "For the first time in over five years I have got a real sense of hope that things might change for the better," she says.

Taking responsibility

As the sixth week comes and goes, Joe is becoming stronger both physically and mentally. He is growing more and more confident that he can live life without crack.

All of a sudden his old life - Lisa included - seems a world away, but his memories of her are laced with guilt.

Joe is having to deal with what he did when he was on drugs. Although he is now a different man, he still needs to come to terms with his former self.

As he admits to his poor treatment of his ex-girlfriend Lisa, Joe tries to send out a message to her.

"I've found a way out!" he proclaims.

He is one of the lucky ones - Lisa is still on drugs.

A new beginning

Joe has managed to complete the eight week treatment and is excited about the possibilities of a new life.

He stays on for secondary treatment until Christmas where he will have more freedom but still receive counselling.

Joe and his family can now look forward to a future away from drugs and, although they say that recovery never really ends, at least Joe's has begun.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Health - Addictions

On the rest of the web
Narcotics Anonymous
Broadway Lodge
Drug Rehabs

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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