What is the best treatment option for my wife’s addiction to crack cocaine?

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Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on October 9th, 2010 - Last updated: June 22nd, 2023
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Dear Doctor:

My wife is a Crack addict for the past 8 years. We got married 5 years ago and her addiction had gotten much better, every 6 to 9 months she would relapse and be gone for days at a time. She would then come home and go to meeting and try to get help. Sense Jan. 5th of this year she had relapsed 6 times and the last time she was gone for almost two weeks. She had no money yet she found ways to get the Crack. Last Thursday Feb. 26th she called me from jail and said she had been arrested for sodomy. You can imagine how happy that made me! She had a good job as a preschool teacher and we taught Sunday school together at our church. She had a lot of things going for her yet she thru it all away. Could you give me any ideas on what the best kind of treatment is out there for crack addiction.


Dear James:

Has she had any treatment before? What kind of treatment? Did that work?

If she is in jail, then if they do not put her in prison, they will demand some kind of treatment. Do you have an attorney? Of course, a public defender will be assigned to you if you cannot afford one. Talk with the attorney. He or she should be seeking a PTI (pretrial intervention) which gets your wife into some sort of very structured program, where she must get tested, or else be sent to prison. See what choices there are and see which one your wife will like best/do best in.

She has used up most of her degrees of freedom. She is now part of the court/probation system, and she must answer to it, as well as to you and God.


Dear Stanton:

Yes she has gone into a couple of treatment programs before we got married I’d say about 6 or 7 years ago. Yes she has a public defender and he came to see her yesterday morning. She told him everything and he said he was going to try to get the charge reduced to a misdominor. She also told him she would like to go to an impatient program where she could get the help she needs.

Would it help her to get some letters from our pastor and her old boss stating the kind of person they know her to be. The have known us a long time and they can say that she is a good person.

Does she need to request a “pretrial intervention” from her lawyer? Her court date is March 18th.

We have 4 kids, they are my step children and I am taking care of them while she is in jail and I will take care of them I told her as long as it takes for her to get better. She is a good person and she needs help.

Thanks for your help!

Dear James:

The public defender who is having the charge reduced should be simultaneously seeking treatment for her. This is usually required as a condition for discharging your wife.

If the PD is getting the charge dropped to a misdemeanor, I don’t know if a letter from your Pastor is necessary. I would say that a religiously oriented program might be one that suits your wife.

I guess the problem we face is that your wife has been in treatment repeatedly, and she always relapses. Often, people can improve as they age. That hasn’t necessarily happened with your wife. So the question becomes, what will be different this time around to keep her from slipping back into crack addiction?

Your wife has to be involved in this thinking. If she wants to remain straight, then she should be able to help plan how to arrange her life to keep her busy and away from drugs. No treatment program can help her if she doesn’t do this.

This is why the inpatient program may be a short-term solution, but something longer-lasting is required. Do you think it would work for her to attend an outpatient program once a week (or more), so that she knows she has an appointment coming up? Are there more daily activities she can be engaged in which will keep her away from drug-using friends and haunts.

One other thing, James. You are a very supportive, permissive husband. Many would have given up on your wife. Instead, you are standing by her and raising her four children. I’m not saying that you should not do this. But you should perhaps think about how to be tougher, more demanding on your wife. What do you need to survive in this situation? And, you must ask, what is best for the children?

Prayer is a great help, but God helps those who help themselves!

Keep me informed.

Best regards,

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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