Drug and alcohol abuse 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 you valued drugs and alcohol more than spending time with them. Now, in recovery, you will have to focus on healing those damaged relationships. Establishing and maintaining healthy, effective 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. Healthy, effective boundaries help build trust and strengthen relationships. You can determine the consequences for any unacceptable behavior. 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 other people drinking is a trigger for you, you can politely request that they not bring a bottle of wine when they come to your home for a dinner party. In that way, a boundary can help you and everyone in your orbit.
Tips for Setting Healthy, Effective Boundaries
When you start setting boundaries in recovery, you might need to start almost entirely from scratch. In your years of active addiction, you could have had few to no boundaries, which resulted in relationships characterized by co-dependency, enabling and similar challenges.
Creating boundaries, then, represents an essential milestone on your healing journey, 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 synonymous with challenge, but your health and happiness should now be your foremost priorities. If others don’t understand – or refuse to accept – your need to protect your well-being, you may need to sever ties with them.
- Say what you mean. Defining boundaries requires perseverance. You can’t be wishy-washy. 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.