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Setting boundaries in recovery

Setting boundaries is a key element that contributes to a happy, sober way of life, which is why it’s vital to learn this important skill during recovery. However, this may be trickier than anticipated as physical and emotional challenges during such time may prove to be overwhelming.

Issues with boundaries emerge from the past. Addicts often come from dysfunctional homes where boundaries were either too rigid (suppressed emotions and distant relationships) or too entangled (devoid of a sense of personal identity). These trends are likely to continue later in life as well, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

The importance of boundaries lies in the fact that they keep you safe from being manipulated, abused or taken advantage of, alongside protecting others from harm inflicted by the addict, consciously or unconsciously. They prevent elements of codependency. With healthy boundaries in place, tuning in to an inner voice and trusting one’s own thoughts and feelings becomes a possibility again.

Boundaries blur for people battling an addiction. Loved ones are often pushed away who truly love and care, while unreasonably intimate relationships may develop with strangers who exacerbate the addiction.

One of the most difficult things for those in recovery is to create firm boundaries with friends who are still using even though they may feel betrayed or act discouragingly. Discussing boundaries with a therapist or sponsor may guide someone towards what’s reasonable and helpful. Boundaries may include particular meeting times or places. Meeting these friends only in non-triggering environments can be one way to maintain contact without putting oneself in a compromising situation.

If loved ones ended up being pushed away due to addiction, recovery is a good opportunity to reincorporate those boundaries back to their former, healthy dynamics. Spending time with family members and friends who are supportive of recovery is a good beginning. This helps to form a support system and safety net.

Setting boundaries during recovery is vital for long-term success. The following steps may prove helpful in reconstructing healthy boundaries:

  • The process begins with the definition of feelings, values and beliefs followed by conveying them to others
  • Identification of emotions and setting limits accordingly defines for others how one wants to be treated
  • Being assertive in a polite yet firm manner in case of any violation of boundaries is important for the maintenance of these boundaries
  • All the while, it is important to realize and keep in mind the value of other people’s boundaries and respecting them

Setting boundaries is an essential part of the recovery process and is something that is learned when one enters an addiction treatment center. Re-establishment of healthy boundaries complements the construction of a healthy framework for recovery as well.

The 24/7 Recovery Helpline is committed to providing opportunities for recovery that reaches outside the scope of conventional treatment and focuses on skills that will enable a successful reintegration into society. If you or a loved one is currently seeking recovery, call us right away at 855-441-4405.

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