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He’s Hiding a Crack Habit

man on couch, woman walking away

AiR member vocalist72 has discovered that her husband is using crack cocaine.

Hi. My husband seems to be suffering with addiction to crack cocaine. I have never seen him do it but he is very good at hiding his use. I have had experience with my oldest daughter's dad who had the same addiction. However my husband hides his use and drinks and smokes marijuana around me only. When I think he used crack he goes missing. Sometimes for days and sometimes just for the night. We have lost thousand of dollars to his using, which he always claimed to be used for something else that is not tangible. I don't exactly know how long he has had this addiction. But at first I thought he was just having multiple affairs. I can't trust anything he says or promises. The last time he went missing and wanted to come home he finally admitted he had a problem and needed to seek counsel. However he did not admit to the addiction. He claims he has anger issues and something mental going on that needs to be addressed. I think he suffers with some kind of anxiety as he claims his mind races and too many thoughts when he doesn't smoke or drink.

He came home Friday but was too late to call counsel for therapy. He still stayed out Friday and Saturday night. Stayed home Sunday for Father's Day and agreed to work with me Monday as we normally work together when he is around. But he made up a story in the morning that he needed to help a friend bring back a rental car and I was to come get him 2 hours. It never happened and it is now Tuesday. I want to tell him he can't come home until he gets help. I think it is time. But all my responses up till now have met him with anger and frustration. I just found this site recently when seeking help for him. I have been to therapy in past for his behaviors and will be starting back up on Thursday. Please advise on what I should do. Thanks.

Crack cocaine is a particularly insidious drug. It is cheaper than powdered cocaine and more readily available. Like powdered cocaine, a person will consume the drug until it runs out. Crack cocaine is smoked in a pipe. A hit off the pipe lasts 20 minutes or so. Another hit is then needed. A crack cocaine user will continue like this for days, chasing the emotional crash when the drug wears off with another hit off the pipe. Nothing else matters when you’re in this cycle: nothing. Not the job, the bank account, or you.

You have tried speaking to him and he denies having a problem. He does admit to anger and to some possible “mental issues.” Because cocaine is done in binges and doesn’t create a physical withdrawal like other drugs, a person can more easily believe the problem doesn’t exist. The binge is over in their eyes, and life returns to normal.

(You so much want life to be normal again, you may be going along with promises of normalcy.) There are consequences though, as you point out. He disappears for days. He spends thousands of dollars. Life is not normal at all.

Look at the video modules on this site. You are going to have to do a little work yourself:

  • check on how you communicate by watching Module 4.
  • How you respond to your husband when he returns from a binge is also important and is covered in Module 6.
  • We show you how to engage your husband into treatment in Module 8.

Changing how you communicate and respond to your husband isn’t easy, but it can quickly signal to him that you are done tolerating his use in any way.

When it comes to getting your husband to accept treatment, it may be easier to start with his anger and mental issues. Find a counselor that takes your insurance. To know what to look for in a counselor, read our blog post entitled The "Roll Up Your Sleeves" Guide to Assisting in Recovery.”

For cocaine, there are drugs that can help with cravings. None is FDA-approved for cocaine addiction, but some show promise in controlled trials, such as disulfiram, a drug used to help with alcohol addiction. Behavioral treatments listed in the above post are helpful for cocaine problems. Another one, contingency management, in which vouchers are used as rewards for clean time, has also been studied and found effective for cocaine.

Take a look at the modules mentioned. Take it a little at a time and go easy on yourself. You now have a plan with actions you can take that are shown to work. Write back in when you need support. 



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Hi I believe my husband is on a crack binge. He got his hands on about $3800 and he had been gone since Monday night and now it is Sunday morning. I am worried. I don’t know where he could be. He had turned his phone off. How long can I expect him to be gone? What should I do? He has never gone this long and he always checked in at some time. I have to make excuses to my family as to his where abouts.