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How to Establish Boundaries with An Addicted Loved One

Drawing the line with an addicted loved one to establish acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, responsibilities, and actions is the definition of establishing boundaries. Essential in any relationship, boundaries with an addicted loved one set the guidelines for the relationship.

Without boundaries in this type of relationship, dysfunctional behaviors such as enabling could occur, which only perpetuate the addiction. Finally, boundaries are protective properties that, in some cases, increase the odds that someone with a substance use disorder will seek help.

The Value of Boundaries

Every person, in every relationship, needs to recognize boundaries as essential to thriving in a healthy relationship. Having boundaries with an addicted loved one allows a sense of control and respect to occur. When a person has a substance use disorder, it is typical to find dysfunctional behaviors that hurt everyone involved. Identifying dysfunctional behaviors is the first step in learning to leave negative, unhealthy behaviors behind and change the future.

Setting boundaries with an addicted loved one is the first step in developing a healthy, respectful relationship. Therapy helps us understand more about boundaries and learn how to determine the limits of any relationship. Mutual respect is essential for maintaining healthy and productive relationships.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous, a consequence of addiction is a lack of boundaries and constant breaking of set limits, which happens with an alcohol use disorder. Personal and professional boundaries are the foundation for mutual respect in all relationships. Each person is responsible for examining their value and determining safety, security, and respect boundaries.

It is typical for confusion and unintentional emotional pain to occur with a loved one with a substance use disorder if there are no boundaries in the relationship. Ultimately, there is excellent value in boundaries for every aspect of healthy relationships in a sober life. 

The following factors describe the protective value of boundaries:

  • Protection of emotions: Emotional boundaries set the guidelines for interactions with others to increase feelings of self-respect and self-compassion. 
  • Protection of physical space ensures comfort and safety of self and possessions. 
  • Separation of thoughts, feelings, and needs from those of others: It is typical to want to be generous and helpful, and boundaries allow people to recognize personal needs first.
  • People can only be responsible for their happiness, not others: Controlling others is unhealthy behavior and crosses respectful boundaries. No one should try to fulfill the needs of others. 
  • Enriches relationships: Healthy boundaries free people from building resentments and insecurities.  
  • Protects sense of self: Boundaries keep people from forgetting their own needs, identity, and goals from helping others.

Lack of Boundaries: Codependency and Addiction

Setting boundaries with an addicted loved one can be a challenging prospect when codependency occurs. The lack of boundaries occurs in codependent family relationships when incorrect beliefs about helping the addicted loved one only allow the addiction to continue.

Typically, when family members ignore their own needs and beliefs to make their addicted loved one more comfortable, there are no boundaries. Codependency is generally a generational problem in families or a learned behavior from childhood.

Boundary Violations in Relationships

The same violations occur in relationships surrounding an addicted loved one with or without boundaries. Fortunately, setting boundaries with an addicted loved one stops the enabling process and forces the loved one to make serious decisions.

When considering how to get a loved one to attend rehab, it is essential to focus on the boundaries and point out the violations of the rules. Maintaining compassion and understanding to stay supportive is possible, but staying aware of all red flags is imperative. 

The following are examples of setting boundaries with an addicted loved one:

  • No drugs or alcohol are allowed around me or in the house.
  • No friends are allowed around me if they are using drugs.
  • If you get arrested, I will not bail you out of jail or come to your aid.
  • There will be no personal insults or ridicule of the support system.
  • I cannot give any more money for any reason.
  • You must leave and can only come back once sober.
  • I will not lie or cover for an addicted loved one and will not accept being lied to.
  • While you are in my house, the rules apply to everyone.

Boundaries have value and demand respect, and it is essential not to overlook boundary violations. When violations occur, there must be a consequence of the breach. Repeating the boundary rules and consequences every time a violation occurs is essential.

Educating for Empathy and Wisdom

Many people are not familiar with boundaries in relationships. As a result, when setting boundaries with an addicted loved one, there must be a sense of empathy and compassion for the lack of knowledge.

Therapy can provide a thorough education concerning how vital boundaries are in all healthy relationships. Boundaries add control and sanity to a challenging situation. Defining acceptable behaviors, responsibilities, and actions starts the boundary process. The addicted loved one must be aware of the consequences they will receive for not honoring the set boundaries.

Lying, cheating, stealing, and disrespect are not acceptable behaviors that connect to a substance use disorder. However difficult it may be, standing up for the set boundaries at all times makes the practice successful.

Practicing Clear Communication

Keeping it simple when setting boundaries with an addicted loved one is best. The best way to communicate is to keep the language direct, simple, and unwavering. Staying clear, and unemotional and then making simple statements will send the best message.

For example, the following statements are most effective:

  • I will not accept you lying to me about anything.
  • When you lie to me, it makes me feel disrespected and unvalued.
  • If you lie to me, I will not talk to you until you apologize and repeat the boundary rules about lying.

Family Therapy and Interventions

Those who have an interest in setting boundaries with an addicted loved one can initiate the learning process in Family therapy. In dysfunctional family relationships, having a third-party professional therapist educate and lead the discussion on boundary work is crucial for success.

Interventions for addicted loved ones can also occur with the help of a treatment professional who understands group intervention. Treatment centers offering therapy for the family, friends, and addicted loved ones with individual, group, and family therapy options are the most successful.

Access Family Therapy Programs with Boundary Education

Supporting an addicted loved one is challenging, but finding a treatment center with therapy options for the family to participate in is vital to success. Tennessee Valley Recovery understands the support system must be strong and lead to building healthy relationships.

In many cases, mental health issues may be contributing to the challenges of an addicted loved one, making the situation more complicated.

Contact Tennessee Valley Recovery, which offers many options to encompass the diverse nature of addiction.