Addiction recovery is a long and challenging process. Learning to manage your addiction requires learning how to set boundaries with loved ones. When managing addiction, you may find it difficult to set boundaries because you don’t want confrontation. However, setting boundaries is imperative to ensuring that your recovery always comes first.
What Are Boundaries?
Before you can set boundaries, it’s important to understand what you need. Boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves and others. They define what is acceptable or unacceptable within a relationship. For example, if you have a friend who always wants you to pick up their slack, it could be helpful to establish a boundary that says: “I will help you with your work now and then, but only if it doesn’t interfere with my other commitments.”
Boundaries give you power by allowing you to protect yourself from people or situations that aren’t good for your recovery. Healthy boundaries also allow you to take care of yourself properly so you don’t exhaust yourself emotionally or physically.
In healthy relationships, everyone has their own unique needs and desires. However, when someone feels like they’re being taken advantage of or manipulated by another person’s demands, these become “boundary issues.”
Understand Your Needs
You may have been so focused on your loved one’s needs while managing your addiction that you forgot to consider your own. Part of setting boundaries with them is establishing your needs and then asking for them to be met.
Here are some examples of things you might need:
- To feel safe and sound in your own home
- To not be around other individuals that trigger you to want to use
- To take care of yourself and make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing daily exercise that helps your recovery
- Keeping alcohol and other substances out of the home or in a place where they won’t be easily accessible
Learn to Say “No”
Learning how to say “no” is a vital skill in recovery. It can be difficult when managing addiction and saying no to loved ones because you may be used to always giving in and doing what others want you to do. Often this is because you feel guilty or obligated by other people’s needs. If you manage an addiction, it is important not to slip back into patterns that promote substance use. You need to understand that your recovery comes first. Therefore, learning to set boundaries with others will help you and your loved ones focus on managing your recovery.
Use “I” Statements
In order to successfully set boundaries, it’s important that you express how you feel about a situation in a calm manner. It is essential not to use “you” statements since they can be accusatory and cause conflict between yourself and the person you are communicating with.
A good example is if your loved one is always late or missing events or occasions you planned together. For example, you may ask them to join you at a meeting or appointment that is important to you. Instead of blaming them by saying, “You forgot my appointment. What am I supposed to do? This isn’t fair at all.” Focus on expressing yourself. Instead, try using an “I” statement such as “I am disappointed because this meeting was important to me.”
Make It a Habit
You might be thinking, “I don’t want to hurt them.” While you value the relationship and don’t want to hurt a loved one, you need to remember that your needs need to come first – especially when you have already tried setting boundaries with those around you, but they are overstepping these boundaries. Soon your rules and needs become meaningless. It is important to say a firm “no” and stand your ground if your loved ones are not respecting your boundaries.
It’s time to take a step back and start over with some new strategies that help rather than hurt the relationship. The following tips can help you set healthy boundaries with your family member or friend:
- Make sure you’re not isolated from other people during recovery
- Don’t enable other people’s behavior
- Make sure you take space when you need it
Boundaries Create Healthy Relationships
Setting boundaries is one of the most difficult and necessary things to creating a healthy relationship with your loved ones. While telling someone that their behavior is affecting your life may be uncomfortable, it’s an act of self-care and protection. Setting boundaries helps you build healthy relationships and prevent relapse by ensuring you are not living in fear or taking on responsibilities for others.
Recovery is an ongoing process. As you continue to work on your recovery, it’s important to remember that setting boundaries can be integral to maintaining healthy relationships. By being aware of your needs and triggers, learning how to say no, and making boundary setting a habit in all your relationships, not just with family members or partners, you will be able to maintain a healthy balance between yourself and others while still having room for compromise. As you follow through with setting healthy boundaries, your relationships will become more functional and respected. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, give us a call, and we would love to help you in your first steps towards recovery. We can help you through this process of creating healthy boundaries as well. Please reach out for more information. Call (877) 331-4114.