Myth: Boundaries are walls we place around ourselves to keep others away. In fact, boundaries are protection and a key part of a healthy and successful recovery.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol takes its toll on relationships, especially with those you love most. Whether you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment, setting clear and healthy boundaries must be part of the recovery process. These boundaries will safeguard your interactions and communication, and protect your relationship during this difficult time.
What Are Personal Boundaries?
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, thoughts, beliefs and personal space. Personal boundaries are limits and rules that people set around themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to safeguard these individual values.
During recovery, both recovering addicts and their loved ones need to value themselves by setting healthy boundaries.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries
Healthy boundaries help you define who you are and keep relationships safe, respectful and supportive. Unhealthy boundaries, on the other hand, can be used to manipulate or control others or keep loved ones at arm’s length.
During addiction, unhealthy boundaries can run rampant. This could include being unable to tell your son or daughter no, refusing to ask for help or even compromising your beliefs because you were afraid your loved one would reject you.
Addiction fuels many toxic behavior patterns, including:
- Dysfunctional interactions
- A need to control others
- Bitterness and resentment
Whether you’re a recovering addict or the loved one of someone undergoing addiction treatment, maintaining healthy personal values is an important first step during recovery.
Why Healthy Boundaries Are Essential in Addiction Recovery
Boundaries reflect your personal values and needs. They give you space to express yourself and what’s important to you. They also help guide the appropriate way to communicate with others.
If addiction has touched your life, you may not be sure what healthy boundaries look like. Good personal boundaries can be as simple as:
- Expecting to be treated with dignity, respect and kindness.
- Weighing the pros and cons of your relationship with someone.
- Prioritizing your personal values despite what others think of you.
- Saying no if someone acts in unwanted ways toward you.
- Expressing what you want from someone.
- Being able to respond respectfully to another if they turn down your offer.
- Developing an appropriate level of trust with another person over time.
Benefits of Boundaries During Recovery
As you set these healthy boundaries during the recovery process, you will find they have many benefits. Boundaries help you:
- Gain self-respect
- Improve communication
- Learn to say no
- Resist the temptation to return to unhealthy behaviors or interactions
- Take responsibility for your actions
- Experience happier and healthier relationships
Four Tips for Establishing Healthy Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are a necessary part of addiction recovery. Maybe you’re a former addict struggling to understand and implement healthy boundaries into your life. Or maybe you’re the loved one of someone who is a recovering alcoholic and you need to establish boundaries to protect yourself. Whatever the situation, when addiction touches lives, boundaries are essential.
If you’re struggling with this process, here are four ways to set boundaries in place:
- Define your personal rights: First, define how you feel as well as your own values and beliefs. This will let others know how you wish to be treated and empower you with the will to assert your personal rights.
- State your limits: Setting limits lets others know how far they can go. For example, if you tell your recovering addict son that you wish to be spoken to with respect, then they have no right to scream at you or put you down.
- Speak up for yourself: Once your boundaries are in place, you must be assertive when others ignore them. You don’t have to lash out or be rude. Be polite yet firm and stand your ground. Let them know they have stepped over a boundary and that’s not acceptable.
- Respect the boundaries of others: You are not the only one with boundaries. The boundaries of others matter just as much as yours. Even if their boundaries are different, give them the respect you wish for yourself.
Receive Addiction Recovery Treatment at Gateway Foundation
From cleansing your body to learning how to create healthier relationships with loved ones, you can trust the team at Gateway Foundation to help you find a better way. We provide evidence-based treatments to those struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. As you step into sobriety, our expert team will help you learn how to set healthy boundaries and rebuild trusting relationships.
Recovery is possible. Contact us online or call us at 877.379.9078 to speak with a member of our compassionate team.