Setting boundaries is key to creating and maintaining healthy relationships, even more so when a loved one is struggling with substance abuse. While it can be difficult, setting boundaries is necessary for the recovery process. As an individual undergoes treatment, they will find themselves rebuilding relationships and it is important that we set those guidelines not only for their successful recovery, but for our own wellbeing.
What are boundaries & why are they important?
Boundaries are personal limits one sets for themselves in order to protect their overall wellbeing. You can think of them as psychological barriers between individuals that establish guidelines for acceptable behaviors, actions and responsibilities.
It is important that we set strong boundaries with others so that we don’t compromise our own needs for someone else. Poor boundaries can cause you to feel like you are losing your freedom, personal space, and yourself. When we establish healthy boundaries, they help define who we are and ensure that our relationships are supportive, respectful and safe.
With a loved one struggling with substance abuse, it is more important that ever to set firm and healthy boundaries. With weak boundaries, they may push those limits as a way to control and manipulate relationships. Having weak boundaries also makes it more likely that you will be lied to and stolen from.
You also want to establish boundaries in order to avoid enabling your struggling loved one. Oftentimes, when we think we are “helping,” we are actually harming. As we go out of our way to do things that they would be able to do in recovery, not only are we enabling, but we are sacrificing our own time and energy.
When they know they can rely on someone to be there to bail them out of their problems, they feel less motivated to change their behavior. Consequently, this makes them less likely to seek help. By creating healthy boundaries, you are increasing the chances that your loved one will seek treatment.
How to set boundaries
Setting boundaries can be difficult and uncomfortable but the end result will be worth it. The key is to be honest and upfront. Explain to your loved one that for the sake of your own health, there are some behaviors that you can no longer allow. Once those boundaries are in place, it is extremely important that they are maintained, otherwise they will become meaningless. As you are persistent with boundaries, remember you can still be compassionate and provide help and guidance when needed.
If your loved one is ready to take the first step towards recovery, contact us today!