Crack cocaine addict Phil Mitchell

'EastEnders' hardman Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) will develop an addiction to crack cocaine after spiralling into depression

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Phil Mitchell

Phil Mitchell

Phil Mitchell is to develop an addiction to crack cocaine.

The 'EastEnders' hardman - played by Steve McFadden - resorts to desperate measures after spiralling into depression following a string of problems in his personal life, including the prospect of losing his daughter Louise (Brittany Papple).

A programme spokesperson confirmed: "'EastEnders' has a history of tackling social issues. We are working closely with drug and alcohol charities, including Addaction and DrugScope to make sure that we sensitively reflect this difficult issue."

Because it is shown before the watershed, Phil - who has battled alcoholism for several years - will never be shown taking the deadly drug.

A show source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "Bosses thought long and hard about the storyline. It will be shocking, powerful and dramatic.

"At no point will viewers see Phil take drugs to ensure the episodes are suitable for the audience."

The forthcoming storyline, which will air later this year, has already been praised by substance abuse charities.

DrugScope's chief executive Martin Barnes said: "If 'EastEnders' sensitively reflect the impact that drug use has on Phil, it could help."

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