Emmerdale: painkiller addiction could ruin Rhona and Vanessa’s friendship, says Michelle Hardwick

“Vanessa feels as though she is being the best friend she can be to Rhona. But, as each day goes by, Vanessa’s realising that she should have put a stop to this on day one”

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Vanessa Woodfield is currently being seen covering up for pal Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry) as she struggles with an addiction to painkillers. But is there a danger that the subterfuge will put paid to their friendship?

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“I really hope that it doesn’t but, depending on how it turns out, yes it could,” admits Michelle Hardwick, who plays Vanessa. “Vanessa feels as though she is being the best friend she can be to Rhona. But, as each day goes by, Vanessa’s realising that she should have put a stop to this on day one.”

Next week, viewers will see Rhona stoop to stealing pills from Sandy, but later surreptitiously sneaking them back after suffering a pang of guilt. But her act means that she’s left with no drugs whatsoever during a country weekend away. Later, when Rhona’s strange behaviour attracts attention, she ends up telling Paddy (Dominic Brunt) that she has an addiction to alcohol rather than painkillers. So how does Vanessa react when she finds out?

“Vanessa can’t believe it. She’s baffled and says, ‘So it’s all right for him to think you’re an alky, but not a druggie?’ Paddy then bans alcohol from the house, which isn’t good for Vanessa because she does like a drink herself! Rhona’s behaviour is strange but she’s acting this way because she’s scared and, also, she doesn’t believe her problem is all that big. I don’t think addicts do realise the extent of their own problem until much further on.”

So what does Vanessa do from here? “Rhona really needs to see a counsellor, so Vanessa wants her to go and seek professional help. Vanessa thought she was helping to contain the problem by prescribing Rhona with tablets with the aim of gradually weaning her off. But now Rhona is getting pills from wherever she can, so it’s gone beyond Vanessa’s control.”

Since her arrival in the village, Vanessa’s relationship with Paddy has been fractious at best, but does Hardwick think they could end up joining forces for a change?

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“It’d be nice if that happened because they both want Rhona to be healthy and back to her old self. So they have her best interests at heart. It’d be good to see them on the same side.”