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What Does It Mean to Set Healthy Boundaries in Recovery?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Drug and alcohol misuse exact a heavy toll on relationships, as addicts begin to prioritize substance use above all other activities. Along the way, you may have hurt the people who cared most about you by sending the message that drugs and alcohol were more important to you than spending time with them. Now, in recovery, you will have to focus on healing those damaged relationships. Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is one place to begin.

How Do Boundaries Work?

Boundaries are the rules you set to define your space and determine what is acceptable in your relationships. Effective boundaries help build trust and strengthen relationships. You can determine the consequences for any behavior that is unacceptable. That way, nobody can fall back on the excuse of, “I didn’t know that wasn’t OK with you.”

You cannot dictate other people’s behavior, but you can be clear about what you do not want them to do. For example, if seeing others drinking or using drugs is a trigger for you, you can politely request that they not bring over a bottle of wine when they come to your home for dinner. In that way, a boundary can help you and everyone in your orbit.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

When you start to set healthy boundaries in recovery, you may need to start almost totally from scratch. In your years of active addiction, you may have had little to no boundaries, which resulted in relationships characterized by co-dependency, enabling and similar challenges.

Creating boundaries, then, represents an essential milestone on your pathway to recovery, since you and those around you are so used to the status quo you established with your addictive behaviors. If you want to help create positive boundaries in your family and friendships, you can start by considering a few things:

  • Not all your relationships will remain the same. Change is never easy, but your health and happiness are your biggest priority now. If others don’t understand – or can’t accept – your need to protect your sobriety, you may need to move forward without them.
  • Say what you mean. Defining boundaries requires you to stick to your guns. That means you can’t be noncommittal. If someone challenges the rules you’ve set, you have every right to tell them no without feeling bad or ashamed about it.
  • Word choice matters. Reframe your language and use “I” statements instead of “you” statements, which can make the other person feel as if you’re blaming them. You are only responsible for your feelings, and vice versa. Honesty is the best policy.

Your Happiness Awaits

When setting boundaries, having a support network is paramount. The people you choose to be in your corner can include your sobriety sponsor, a parent, a sibling or anyone else who can help you navigate challenging situations. Finding people to be on your team can be invaluable as you seek ways to change your lifestyle and set clear boundaries for a healthier recovery.

At Canyon Crossing, our mission is to help women rediscover how to break free of addictions and start on the road to wellness. We are a premier residential drug and alcohol rehab facility in beautiful Prescott, AZ, offering a range of programs that provide structure and teach positive life skills. For more information, contact our staff today.

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