Outside Edge

I have just had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon on a houseboat in Chelsea at an intimate showing by Outside Edge of excerpts from Jerusalem, performed by Mark Rylance, and three others from this pioneering theatre company.

Outside Edge is the brainchild of Phil Fox who, with the vital support of David Charkham and trustees Simon Woodruffe of Yo! and Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page, takes productions that are written to mirror the audience’s story, into treatment and prison settings. The way it works is in a way like an extended role-play, so that the audience is encouraged to interact with the actors and affect the process and ending by responding to the script and action as the performance goes along.

Role-play is a fundamental part of the programme at Charter and for my work in schools, so that a person inhabits the other persons skin, walks for a moment in another persons shoes…you could call it momentary other centredness and it works like magic (most of the time!) Outside Edge does this in a structured way on a bigger scale, though it remains simple and personal, and very accessible.

Simon Woodruffe and Mark Rylance spoke with commitment and passion for a society where this kind of resource is available to everyone, and I echo this; access to the resources and benefits of recovery should not be marginalized to the world of severe addiction.

Prevention is better than cure, early intervention is key, and inspiration and education can play a huge part in changing the direction of a young persons life. Outside Edge, like many of us in the recovery community, has a powerful resource at its fingertips with a much wider application than addiction. I am in no doubt that the 12 steps helped me to recover from completely losing hope when I fell foul of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. There is so much more we can do with what we have if we all join hands and work together…I’m in…

Recovery Awareness Reception

Our forthcoming Recovery Awareness Reception on October 2nd will be held in alliance with eating disorder experts, Montrose Manor who are based in Cape Town. With a long-standing relationship in collaboration of care we share similar views about addiction – what it is and how it should be treated – and similar frustrations around how the illness is perceived and therefore treated in the UK.

Charter is predominantly designed as a day programme where people can get well in the context of their lives. This is a deliberate design as those addicts I want to work with are not at the critical end of the continuum (though they may feel it) but somewhere in between, where denial still reigns and trouble usually follows. These people, these addicts, are living amongst us, on the tube, at work; they are serving you, picking up the kids, functioning at some level. These are my clients. I work where intervention happens in time for a full and happy life to be possible.

I believe that abstinence is not the goal, but the means, and thus at Charter we work with each client on the core characteristics of addiction rather than necessarily the drug of choice, reducing the risk of devastating relapse and cross addiction.

Addiction is a human condition, it’s relational and it operates on a continuum. Where you are on that continuum plays a huge part in what sort of treatment you will respond best to. The work we do here is extraordinary, consistently turning out sustainable recovery, as evidenced by our thriving aftercare community. It is possible not only to get clean, but also to live a happy and fulfilling life. Aim for the stars…(and don’t stop flapping your wings ‘til you get there!)

One of the reasons I was interested in hosting this event with Montrose was because we need challenging dialogue amongst the thinkers and decision makers who are interested in this incredibly difficult human condition so that addiction is not marginalised to the confines of the extreme cases, but seen in a broader light, often where an opportunity of early intervention lies. (Is this where I mention being able to spot an addict at age 7…?)

Charter gains a touch of Alchemy…

UK’s top Addiction Specialists launch Charter Adolescents

Have communications with your adolescent broken down? Do they seem unhappy or anxious?  Are you concerned they may be drinking or using alcohol or other addictive substances? 

Then Charter Adolescents can help.

Research shows that Adolescents are more vulnerable than any other age group to developing, alcohol and other drug addictions in fact drug use is higher among young people than the adult population as a whole[1], yet there are a lack of specialist facilities to help them.

[1] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/drugs-misuse-dec-1112-tabs/extent-young-tabs

Which is why Mandy Saligari, Founder and Director of leading London addiction facility Charter Day Care, Residential and Counselling Centres has joined forces with Stephen Noel-Hill of Alchemy to form Charter Adolescents.

Stephen has extensive experience working with adolescents and young people spanning twelve years working at the Priory Hospital Roehampton and Adolescent Units in Holland.

Mandy has a well-established presence in independent schools lecturing on addiction, parenting for prevention and self-esteem. She has long since wanted to set up a service especially for adolescents addressing the issues that are brought to the surface in these school talks.

“Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to self-defeating coping mechanisms, our main aim with this service is to encourage a valuable sense of self, working with the young person and their parents – many of whom just don’t know how to cope with the issues their children are raising or the behavior they are presenting.”

Both Mandy and Stephen understand that that early intervention and prevention are fundamental to successful outcomes. It is this common vision that led them to merge Alchemy into Charter.

Charter Adolescents is an exciting new service that will do what Charter does best: intensive non-residential treatment and multi-disciplined counselling and therapy. The focus is on early intervention, education, emotional development and appropriate referral to give the adolescent and the family a new lease of life.

With a counselling team who are specialists in this area and experienced in work with young people, alongside Stephen’s expertise and Mandy’s guidance, this service will be dedicated to young people.

Working in groups, individual and family sessions and workshops, after school hours and at weekends, Charter Adolescents is an intensive and brief intervention and counselling service targeted to work with addictive disorders and emotional disturbance.

Charter is well established as a leading London addiction facility offering focused, flexible and effective day care for all addictive disorders at competitive rates.

For more information visit www.charterdaycare.com or call 020 73234970 or email  info@charterdaycare.com

Charter Day Care, 15 Harley Street, London W1G 9QQ


Press Information

Addiction Experts, Spokespeople, Advice Columns, Latest Research, Case Studies and Images available.

Enquiries: Jenny Rose, jenny@happypr.co.uk M: 07957 551 697.






Parenting for Prevention Workshops

I have been presenting Parenting for Prevention workshops in schools across the UK for around 10 years and am now planning to bring this material into the treatment environment as a workshop targeted towards helping parents whose children suffer from addiction.

Every parent with a child of any age who is acting out in an addictive way needs to be aware of their boundaries, be able to present a consistent response to any demand or behaviour, and to feel that their decision is seated in respect and self esteem.

I often get asked where the line is drawn between good parenting, ie the duty to love, guide, punish and teach, and unhealthy enmeshed parenting where there is often an over involvement and overt sense of responsibility and resentment. Although the age of the child is relevant in this discussion, the core principles are the same and a big question is who is in charge?

In a family where addiction is present it can often appear as if the addict is running the show, able to hijack any interaction or event and frequently create worry and drama. But of course it is not the addict per se, it is addiction itself that is operating within the family system. Once parents and family members start to behave in a coordinated and healthy way, changes always happen.

This workshop is specifically designed to illustrate adolescent reactions that can feed conflict and splitting which are instantly recognizable. There is usually a lot of laughter in this workshop before parents get down to working on understanding and then practicing the simple responses that can make all the difference.

These patterns always exist in addictive relationships and it is vital that those close to the addict know how to navigate them, to feel confident that they are supporting the solution not feeding the problem.

Please contact the office if you are interested in attending any of our workshops in the future: 020 7323 4970

Family Groups

Family Group is a very important part of Charter’s addiction treatment programme.  Currently costing just £150pa per family member for unlimited access, the groups provide an introduction to addiction and vital peer and counselling support for family members of an addict.

The familiar position of lose:lose is the domain of the families of addicts, where it is so hard to know what to do as your loved one perpetually holds the proverbial gun to their own head and, finger on trigger, reacts what you say and do.

At Charter we advocate re-establishing a sense of nourishment and self respect in the family member so that they too can make a decision instead of just reacting to a situation:- fire fighting. This takes time and commitment and I am proud to say that we have a core group of hard working family members cementing the changes with their increasing understanding and personal growth. When one person changes, the dance changes. So whether your addict is on board (yet) or not, working in the family group can make all the difference to the possibility and nature of recovery in your life.

We also hold family workshop weekends that provide a more intensive introduction to letting go with love, enablement vs tough love and how to take care of you – many family members recoil from such apparently new age statements (as did my own parents many years ago) – but these workshops have proven to be of fundamental use to those struggling to gain purchase on this slippery and destructive condition in the life of someone they love.

Addiction is all consuming, self centred, provocative and relentless. It takes experience to know how to behave around it, and courage and compassion not to feed it.  The group will support you while you learn…

Co-dependent love Kills

The recent tragic death of Eva Rausing, daughter of a Pepsi executive and married to the heir of the Tetra Pak billions is yet another sad addition to the long list of deaths claimed by addiction. In a relationship fuelled by co-dependence, it is clear that neither partner would ever get recovery long enough to have a proper chance at life.

This situation is so familiar to those of us working in the field. Over and over again I warn my clients about getting into a relationship in treatment or early recovery and those who don’t listen – self will run riot – (and who stay in touch) have almost always found themselves in difficulty later down the line. And although it is the truth, to say ‘almost always’ to an addict they will illicit an attentional bias towards ‘almost’, encouraging the inherent arrogant belief that every addict has that they will be the exception.

It is so obvious to me that in rehab where you are putting down your drug of choice, you are wide open to an alternative, something to fill the gap, the void that any addict in early recovery feels – indeed must feel and learn to tolerate. For this lack of tolerance IS the addictive process in action. An inability to not know, to feel exposed, alone, afraid… – to feel vulnerable generates the compulsion to use. So a relationship in early recovery is a collusion between addicts to mutually fix and avoid this seemingly intolerable void, dressing it up as something worthwhile.

Sadly most of the time the addicts themselves are completely unaware of what is going on, usually insisting that they do know and they are actually in love, and treating those who seek to challenge the addiction (family, sponsors and therapists) as lacking in understanding, punishing and unreasonable. In turn this can drive the couple into secrecy, into the false yet seductive intimacy of ‘them and us’… as the  examples given by the journalist of this article displays, feted couples Burton and Taylor, Cobain and Love, Britney and Kevin, Whitney and Bobby – all very Bonnie and Clyde: over romanticised sickness ending in disaster.

At Charter we work on co-dependence and relationships (with self and others) as a mainstay of our programme. Addiction is at its roots relational and addicts need to be able to have healthy interactive relationships that nourish them, or they will relapse. I have had the privilege to support many people to avoid an ending such as Eva’s despite all the priming that might make that their destiny, and I am grateful for these clients’ willingness and trust to follow my direction. It is not easy, never easy, but it is most definitely worth it.

Read more:  http://m.guardian.co.uk/uk/us-news-blog/2012/jul/13/drug-using-couples-eva-rausing?cat=uk&type=article

Brits Warned: Inactivity As Deadly As Smoking

It is predictable perhaps that I believe it to be our responsibility as parents and adults to inspire the younger generation to adopt healthy ways to live. This is not just about drugs and alcohol, It is about learning to live a healthy life emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I think that we set an example and children follow.  When I work with parents particularly with children under 12, I look at their own patterns – whether that is of drinking, eating, drug taking or generally how they deal with their emotions – and I usually find the root of the child’s problem, albeit displaced. Sadly it is common for the parents to dislike this route of treatment so much that they withdraw their child from the therapeutic process. Somehow it seems to be infinitely preferable for the child to be the problem rather than the parent.  However, that said, I have huge admiration for those parents who do persist.

Without doubt, we set the standard and the children follow. What is disturbing is when our children grow up enough to, in turn, set the pace. Born of dysfunctional origins, this is a route set for disaster. I am not naive enough to believe that this is easy, with many people in the UK without work, living on the breadline, poorly educated and growing up in extremely difficult circumstances. But I do believe, with the right support, we can inspire many of the population to live differently. It is shocking to read that in the UK 17% of deaths are caused by inactivity, and that we are world leaders in obesity.  Are we really that unhappy a nation that we would commit ourselves and our children to such a slow and painful life and death?

Read more here:  http://news.sky.com/story/961527

Charter Residential at Primrose Hill

With a history of relapse and poor management I sometimes wonder at my wisdom of taking on Primrose Hill as we had such a climate of prejudice to overcome.

Fortunately, under the careful and attentive management of Clare Sole, we have been consistently busy there since opening in 2010. I believe we are now gaining ourselves a reputation by earning it as a boundaried, accountable safe housing service for those needing extra support in their recovery journeys.

We have 10 beds and admit males and females from 18-65 years at different stages of their recovery, as long as they are abstinent and actively engaged in a 12 step programme or in treatment. It’s a lovely mid terrace Victorian house, has a support worker in residence and provides a temporary home from home.

We provide drug and alcohol testing, weekly planning and support, cooking support, an introduction to fellowship, community living with therapeutic duties, curfews and peer responsibilities.

Alongside treatment, or as extra support through transitions geographically, work-wise or relationship-wise, Charter Residential provides an extraordinary service that is affordable, effective and grounding.

We work with you to get well in the context of your life.

Specialist Eating Disorder Services Needed

Eating disorders are about the relationship between food and emotions, where a person seeks a sense of control over their emotions, over how they appear and over the impact their world has on them. It is common for an eating disorder to develop in a person’s early teens and so it would seem appropriate for there to be services specifically targeted for this age group. CAHMS do a great job, and I have met many people who have benefited from time with this service, but eating disorders – and addictions in general – require specialist knowledge and intervention. This is not about simply getting someone to eat, it’s about attending to the disturbance of self and your typical eating disorder will be extremely reluctant to put their eating disorder down. I think Helen Missen raises a very important issue in this report and I for one would be a willing signature on her petition.


More About Charter

Charter Day Care was launched in 2008 to provide intensive, effective and affordable addiction treatment in central London, where a person  can get well in the context of their lives. It has been hugely  successful in terms of client numbers as well as quality of recovery,  with a thriving aftercare service that is testament to this fact. Working from a psychodynamic approach and employing the 12 step  method alongside motivational interviewing, gestalt therapy, creative arts and body workshops, somatic experiencing (for trauma) and CBT techniques, Charter has a well rounded and successful treatment  programme.  In 2010 we opened Charter Residential, a 10 bed sober  living house in Primrose Hill with 24/7 on site residential support,  boundaries and community living. This is for people needing extra support either through treatment, some sort of transition ( e.g. geographical or relationship) or through a difficult period.

We treat most addictions including substance misuse, co dependence  and sex and love addiction, bulimia, over eating, work addiction and  crucially involve family members whenever appropriate. Many of our  clients are relapsers who haven’t been able to get well elsewhere, the costs are surprisingly affordable.  Our programme is flexible so  that minimum attendance is one full week after which we can agree a schedule of attendance according to assessment – containment is key  and we will never agree a care plan that we feel sets the client up to fail.

We mean business in terms of recovery and go the extra mile to ensure the quality of recovery gained is sustainable. This is a small and personal organisation where every team member, including admin, knows every client, and where the director and founder is hands on so that you are as likely to see her in group, in an intervention or making the team a cup of tea! We are FDAP accredited and approved with several different insurance companies.

Once you are part of the Charter family, the door is always open.