Josh Chandler | April 5, 2018

Setting Boundaries With Someone Dealing With Addiction

It’s important for family and friends to learn how to set boundaries when they have loved ones struggling with addiction.

It can be a stressful and upsetting time if you’re supporting a loved one with an addiction problem.

If it’s a situation you weren’t expecting, it can also be very confusing for you and everyone else involved.

One major factor, when helping an addict, is to learn how to set boundaries between them and you.

This isn’t an easy feat, and can be difficult when you love that person. However, it’s essential in order to help your loved one and to help yourself.

Read on to learn how best to set boundaries with a loved one…

Why are Boundaries Important?

If boundaries aren’t set, it can be counterproductive and dangerous.

A loved one who is an addict can often take advantage of their closest relatives and friends if rules aren’t set.

It’s similar to disciplining a child. The child must learn, early in life, to respect their parents. If they don’t, they might ultimately walk all over them. It’s the same situation with an addict who is, essentially, learning not to be an addict anymore.

On the flip side, these boundaries must not be too solid, or that too can be detrimental. It works both ways: you must keep to the rules too.

Boundaries are important so that you and your loved ones aren’t abused, manipulated, or taken for granted. They also prevent your loved one becoming too dependent on you, and vice versa.

By setting boundaries, you are establishing how you and your loved one will function before, during and after their recovery from addiction.

Set Boundaries Healthily

Healthy boundaries establish a system but also determine what will happen if the system is somehow broken.

This is about both you and the addict being able to say no and assert their own thoughts on the matter. It’s likely the addict is an adult or teenager rather than a child, and so they must be given a level of free speech in the matter.

You cannot charge in with a series of rules and make them adhere to them without a say in it. This would be an example of setting unhealthy boundaries. You are looking to encourage positive progression. An addict must recover in a way that is comfortable for them, as well as those around them.

Healthy Boundaries:

Understanding what a “healthy” boundary is is important. Not instructing someone how they should think or feel, for example. It’s crucial you recognize this is something out of a person’s control.

Be stern but not too rigid or harsh as this works against a recovery process, rather than helping it.

When it comes to the addict you’re helping, don’t let them manage your time, plans or personal beliefs all of the time. Know when to say no. Don’t allow any behavior resembling mistreatment, intimidation, bullying, manipulation or threat. Treat this as a severe breach of any set boundaries.

On the flip side, be sure to allow an addict to have a say when you set boundaries. Allowing an addict to make decisions for themselves is vital.

Be honest and open to whatever degree you or the addict is happy with. Identify actions or emotions that are negative or positive, however obvious or masked.

Choose whom you, and your loved one, should be around for the sake of their recovery. Enforce this with them and with the people they can and can not be around. An example of this might be that you choose not to associate with or have them associate with anyone who is not sober.

Make sure you are recognizing when a boundary is getting close to being crossed or has been crossed. And be 100% prepared to explain boundaries. Why are they in place? How do you justify them to a potentially unreasonable addict?

Boundaries and Consequences of Crossing Them

As is the case with any rule or law, there is no point enforcing it unless there is a consequence for breaking it.

The best way to set boundaries is to lay out the repercussions for breaking them from the start. It’s no good telling someone they cannot break a rule without letting them know the severity of what will happen if they do break it.

It’s crucial when it comes to addiction recovery to set out a roster of what you will or won’t tolerate from a recovering loved one.

Some boundaries are harsher than others. And the level of consequence should mirror the importance of the rule in place.

If, for example, someone slips and finds themselves amongst other addicts, enforce how this should be treated. And what are the levels? What happens if they just hang out with other addicts but do not indulge? What happens if they do?

Similarly, you must protect yourself. If you are being abused or mistreated, you must know how to recognize this and how to provide a consequence. It might be that you will distance yourself from the addict, for their own good as well as yours.

Remember That Boundaries Help

Remember this: Being able to set boundaries could, in some ways, be one of the only ways you can help your loved one.

It’s actually a way of getting someone to recognize that they do need help for their addiction.

Again, like a child, by not following through with consequences you will not help them learn. It’s about making them realize they are in danger and are putting you and others in danger.

By establishing these rules, you are creating a level of distance between you and your addicted loved one. This can only be a healthy move for both you and them. They become less dependent and you preserve some of your own sense of wellbeing and sanity.

If you are too embroiled or involved, with no distancing technique at all, you are likely to damage your relationship with your loved one forever. And addiction recovery can be dark at times. You are saving yourself from a potentially life-changing effect taking place during the recovery process.

Need Help?

Muse Treatment recognize the implications of addiction and are dedicated to providing a center for therapeutic discovery, healing, and the recovery of core values.

The personnel at Muse are meticulously trained in each facet of our program to give you the best foundation upon which to build your new life.

To find out more about our tripod of stability, consisting of Therapy, Neural Recovery, and Twelve-Step Programming – contact us today. We want to help and get you on your journey to a happy future.

Mental Health,Recovery,Rehab,
Josh Chandler

Research | Editorial
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