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Establishing Boundaries During Treatment Starts Recovery Off Right

When your loved one is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, one of the very first
important steps is establishing healthy boundaries between yourself and them. Active addiction damages parts of your relationship such as trust and communication. You know your loved one doesn’t always tell the truth about what’s going on. Also, your loved one may not stick to rules at first. Recovery is a process and setting boundaries is a good place to start when rebuilding your relationship.


Knowing how to determine what boundaries you need can be difficult, so speaking to a
therapist could be helpful. When you are dealing with a loved one who is suffering from
addiction, you often put your feelings, needs, and wants on the back burner and prioritize theirs. This can leave you disconnected from what you need within the relationship, and setting boundaries can help you regain that.

What is a Boundary

A boundary is a limit that you set in order to protect your overall well-being within a relationship. Boundaries can be physical or emotional. For example, you may not be comfortable with your loved one touching you due to things that have happened in the past, so you set a physical boundary. Similarly, an emotional boundary is probably the result of past behavior, so to keep yourself from being hurt again, you set emotional boundaries.

Boundaries are important because they allow us to express our personal values and needs
within a relationship so that it can be safe and healthy. Setting boundaries with your loved one is important during their addiction treatment, because it allows you to rebuild your relationship in a way that protects your mental well-being.

However, it is important to keep in mind that some boundaries are unhealthy if they are used to manipulate or control someone. Before setting boundaries, take into consideration whether they are there to help you feel safe and respected within the relationship, or to control the behavior of your loved one.

Healthy Boundaries in Addiction Recovery

Some boundaries are easier to identify as necessary than others. For example, when violence
or abuse is a part of a relationship, there are clear physical boundaries that need to be set for your safety. However in other situations, you may not realize what boundaries would improve the relationship with your loved one. You may make excuses for their behavior, blame yourself, or feel doubtful in your decisions.

There are a few signs that can tell you an interaction is not good for you and that a boundary needs to be set. If an interaction is making you feel angry and resentful, it’s possible that your loved one is asking too much of you, or you are expecting too much from yourself. In this case, it is okay to kindly decline some requests, or say no to certain expectations they have of you.

If you find that interacting with your loved one leaves you feeling confused, you may need to take a step back and determine on your own whether you are being manipulated. It is important to trust your gut and your body. We often react physically to situations that make us uncomfortable. If you have a knot in your stomach about an interaction, it is important to trust your instincts and evaluate how you want to move forward.

Choosing Which Boundaries to Set

The first step is to ask yourself what motives you have for creating this boundary. When your loved one is in active addiction, it can be difficult to remain in touch with your own feelings and needs because you are constantly consumed by theirs. When they begin their recovery, you may ask yourself what boundaries will help you feel better about the relationship. Here’s where you can learn to identify your own feelings first. What’s bothering you? Why are you angry or fearful? When you can determine why something is bothering you, you will be able to understand what boundaries you need to set with your loved one.

Communicating Your Boundaries

While deciding what boundaries to set can be challenging enough, communicating them to your loved one can be even more difficult. Although you may be harboring a lot of anger, it is
important to try to communicate in a way that is not confrontational. Your loved one is likely
going to be much more receptive to your needs if you explain it so they do not feel attacked.
Talking about your feelings can put you in a vulnerable position, however, when you effectively communicate these boundaries it can build a better relationship between you and your loved one.

About the author:

Jenn Walker

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey. More Articles from Jenn

More Articles To Read About Boundaries

Changing Boundaries Has Consequences

Let’s Break Down Healthy Boundaries

Baby Steps For Setting Boundaries

Forgiveness Doesn’t Remove Boundaries


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