Deal Was to Quit Drugs, Not Marriage! 

Deal Was to Quit Drugs, Not Marriage! 
Posted by FoM on August 01, 1999 at 15:13:28 PT
By Dana Parsons
Source: LA Times
Last December, Tammy Waters dropped her husband, Orville, off at a drug-rehab center near downtown Los Angeles and returned to their home in Orange. She hasn't seen or heard from him since. 
Oh, her husband is alive and well. At least, Tammy Waters presumes he is.   It's just that the center, known as Delancey Street, bans all contact between spouses--including phone calls, letters or personal visits--for more than a year. At this critical moment in her husband's life, Tammy Waters can't get close to him. As far as Delancey Street is concerned, she's a nonperson.   She can't even call to say, "I love you."   She'd have more access to her husband if he were in jail or prison.   "I'm frustrated but not giving up hope on being able to see and communicate with my husband sooner than they say," Waters, 38, says. Her one attempt at contact so far--a letter from her to him--was returned to her.   I found Waters' story hard to believe. Until, that is, a Delancey Street official confirmed their policy.   "With spouses, normally we find it's a sick relationship anyway," says Bob Juencke, co-director of the Los Angeles site of Delancey Street, which has been around for 28 years and has four other sites around the country. "We give them [their residents] the first year to reestablish themselves and focus on what they're doing, because if they don't get themselves right, it does no good to send them back to their families."   Delancey Street specializes in turning around lives of drug users and repeat offenders, like Waters. The attorney who represented Waters in his latest criminal scrape, while not expressing a personal opinion about Delancey Street, says it has been hailed nationally and is highly regarded by Orange County judges.   Adding to its reputation, Deputy Public Defender Dennis Nolan says, is that Delancey Street doesn't take easy projects.   Waters is a case in point.   By all accounts, he's lucky he's not in prison. After pleading guilty to drug possession last October (his fourth brush with the law since 1986), he was looking at a three-year sentence and a return to prison.   Instead, Waters got a break. Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory H. Lewis suspended the sentence in exchange for Waters making a two-year commitment to a drug-rehab program. If Waters, now 34, completes the program, he'll dodge prison.   The Waterses got a brochure from Delancey Street, which indicated residents could begin contact with "family" members--at first, by mail only--after 30 days. A phone call would be permitted after 90 days. Future privileges would be based on the resident's conduct, the brochure says.   The Waterses signed on. To Tammy's shock, however, she learned after all the paperwork had been completed that Delancey Street defines "family" as parents only.   For husbands and wives, the ban on contact isn't lifted until about 15 months into the resident's stay.   Juencke, a former heroin user who credits Delancey Street with turning his life around, says spouses like Tammy Waters need to take the long view.   "The spouses have proved they can't do it on their own [turn their husband or wife away from crime]," Juencke says. "We have rules we've followed for 28 years. When a resident comes in, they're aware of how it works. If a spouse wants a spouse back in good shape, they have to trust Delancey Street."   Wouldn't a Delancey Street resident ever benefit from a spouse's support, I ask Juencke. Would a phone call hurt? A letter?   "If he needed her emotional support, why is his ass in jail?" Juencke says.   Tammy Waters is stuck. She doesn't want to rile Delancey Street. She can't buck the court order. But she's having trouble accepting not seeing or writing to her husband for another eight months.   Fine, Juencke says. Orville Waters can leave any time he wants.   True. Waters could walk out of Delancey Street tomorrow and continue walking directly to state prison.   Tammy Waters says their marriage will survive a 15-month separation.   She just wants to know why it must face the test. Couldn't someone from Delancey Street at least interview her, she asks, to assess her role in her husband's life?   "We have no reason to talk to the spouses," Juencke says. "They're not the ones who are coming to Delancey. I guess if a spouse called and asked [about the no-contact rule], we'd tell them. But they're not the one being interviewed. They're not [facing] a jail cell."   This is what they call tough love.   I understand the tough part. But where's the love?  Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821, by writing to him at The Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail at dana.parsons, August 1, 1999 Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. 
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Comment #1 posted by Ally on August 02, 1999 at 07:51:07 PT
Unfortunately and as cruel as it sounds...
That's pretty much what Narcotic's Anonyomous endorses when they tell you to change your playground and playmates, and no major decisions within the first year of being drug free!The treatment center should always let the family know this before the patient commits to the terms! The treatment center has one major concern, that being the care of the patient. They can be real rigid sometimes...Shalom, Ally 
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