Boundaries are often viewed as being something that keeps people apart, much like a fence. While you may need to establish a few boundaries that prevent an addict from disrupting your life, the true point of setting them is to help bring you together. People with addictions often cross lines in their relationship as their cravings for drugs or alcohol intensify. In recent times, your loved one might have made demands on your time, attention or money that didn’t feel fair. Consequently, you might have started feeling angry, resentful or even scared of your loved one. The importance of setting healthy boundaries with an addict becomes clear once you begin to see how your responses to them affects your overall happiness and wellbeing in life.
What Are Healthy Boundaries?
Addiction generates many negative situations that destroy relationships. Enabling is a behavior that people often engage in when they do things that help their loved one continue to use drugs and alcohol. You might give your loved one money for drugs just to stop them from begging, or you might have started working two jobs and doing all of the housework since your loved one is too sick with hangovers to do anything else. Once you begin doing things that make you feel uncomfortable or overburdened, you’re likely in the territory of needing to set healthy boundaries.
Healthy boundaries are ones that foster positive events and relationships in your life. While it might feel harsh to tell your loved one that you won’t lend them money or answer the door late at night when they show up randomly, it is important for both you and them experience the stability that comes from knowing what to expect from each other. A healthy boundary is one that generates these results that improve your overall wellbeing.
- build self and mutual respect
- improve communication
- cultivate compassion in relationships
- make it easier to resist temptation
- avoid negative feelings such as resentment
What’s the Best Way to Share New Boundaries?
Boundaries work best when they involve clear limits that the addict understands. For example, you might let them know that you’ll only answer their phone calls between certain times of the day. This stops them from waking you up in the middle of the night and provides you with space where you can destress. If you’re nervous about sharing your boundaries, then you can ease into it by using “I” statements that come across as being less accusatory than focusing on your loved one’s actions. An example of this might be telling them, “I can no longer dip into my savings to loan you money when your bills are due.” You can also tell them the consequences of them ignoring your boundaries such as that you will not open the door if they appear drunk or high.
Once your loved one agrees to go to treatment, sharing boundaries becomes easier. You might be able to set defined boundaries during family and marriage counseling sessions. Your loved one will also be used to people establishing boundaries since that is a normal part of the routine in addiction treatment centers.
How Do You Respect Your Loved One’s Boundaries in Recovery?
As your loved one starts their recovery, they may also set healthy boundaries of their own. Many of these will be designed to help them protect their sobriety. They may ask you not to invite them to social events where there will be drugs or alcohol. Or, they might have clear boundaries about inviting people to your house who used to use drugs with. At this point, your job is to also respect their boundaries just like they’ve been respecting yours. Making sure to help your loved one avoid temptation is important, and you’ll find that having mutually respected boundaries also helps to improve your relationship. When both of you know what to expect, you’ll experience fewer arguments, which further helps your loved one to avoid stress during the early stages of their recovery.
Do you need to establish boundaries with an addict? We’ll help you begin taking care of your wellbeing while you work on helping them get into treatment. Call us today at 772-266-5320.