‘I chained up my crack addict daughter’

Patricia was tortured by her daughter’s addiction

Every week four or five teenagers go missing in the east London borough of Hackney because of drugs-related problems.  The London Inside Out team meets one mother whose desperate measures to keep her daughter off crack cocaine put her at odds with the law.

Look about an average 16-year-old’s room and you might expect to find posters, discarded clothes and CDs.  But in Natalie’s room there are also four small holes – a reminder of the steel plate her mother Patricia used to chain her to the wall to keep her off crack cocaine.

Patricia was driven to the desperate measures after her daughter started dabbling in the highly addictive drug when she was 14.  Natalie started staying out all night and became aggressive. Eventually she ran away for five weeks.


Patricia was tortured by the thought of what was happening to her daughter and when Natalie came home she was determined to stop her running away again.

“The images were just horrendous,” Patricia told London’s Inside Out team.  “When she turned up I was elated, but horrified.  “I was elated to see she was alive and that my child was back home, but horrified because she did not look like my child anymore.

“Her face was drawn in, she had no flesh in her cheeks, they were actually hollow and sucked in.”


Desperate to keep her daughter off drugs, Patricia locked Natalie in her room and chained her feet to the wall.   Crack is easy to buy in many areas.   She was later arrested for false imprisonment.

“It was the final straw to me to try to save my daughter from going back to the drugs or having that feeling that my daughter could end up murdered,” said Patricia.   Natalie says she is now glad that her mother was prepared to go to such extremes.   She told Inside Out: “I felt angry, but I knew it was for the best.   ” Even then I knew that she was doing it to help me and it has helped me in the long run.”


Natalie is currently living with her sister in south London, to keep her away from Hackney’s drugs scene.  But Patricia can not rest until her daughter is able to make a permanent move away from the borough.

She has even been re-tracing Natalie’s footsteps, visiting Hackney’s squats and crack houses, to keep track of her daughter’s movements.  “As long as we remain in the borough of Hackney, there’s more than a 99% chance that my daughter will go back to the drugs,” said Patricia.

“I just think we need to come clean away from the area where it all started, in Hackney – it would be good to get right out of the borough.”


Source: BBC Inside Out Sunday, 27 October, 2002

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