Boundary setting is vital for the addict to do in recovery. Setting boundaries is the basis for a balanced life with healthy relationships, so learning this skill is part of a life of sobriety. The skill can help an addict through stressful times when risks of relapse typically increase.
Often addicts do not have healthy boundaries. They may push away people who care and instead seek the company of fellow addicts they barely know who encourage their addiction. But, while boundaries have been blurred by addiction, it is still possible to set clear boundaries again.
When healthy boundaries are rebuilt, a strong structure is in place for recovery. The person in rehab can then focus on goals for himself or herself, rather than wanting to please others, and practice self-exploration, which includes taking time to learn coping techniques for difficult situations that don’t require reaching for drugs or alcohol.
Create firm boundaries with people who support recovery, whether they be family members, friends, church members, or others. By building relationships with a supportive network again, the path to recovery develops more definition and is easier to follow. Boundaries in place with these people help to protect a recovering addict’s morals and values, as well as provide emotional stability and put this individual in a place to take responsibility for future behaviors.
Friends who are substance abuse users are tricky ones when it comes to setting boundaries. The boundaries must be clear so that the person in recovery is not in a tempting environment to return to drugs or alcohol. Unhealthy emotional boundaries can cause a spiral that leads to connecting with inappropriate friends and becoming emotionally attached to them; these supposed friendships are likely to hurt recovery success because they are disrespectful and all-consuming. In other words, there are no clear boundaries.
The difficult part about setting clear boundaries with fellow users is that they will likely feel betrayed and angry at the person seeking recovery. Creating boundaries in this case might be easier to do with the help of a therapist or mentor. Healthy boundaries could include only meeting these friends during daylight hours or in places that do not trigger cravings.
Once boundaries are set, they will likely be put to the test. But by choosing not to let people violate the set boundaries, recovering drug addicts or alcoholics can start to reclaim control of their lives, practice self-care, and not blame others for their issues.