One of the most important things we can do in our relationships with others is learning where to set boundaries. Without boundaries, we leave ourselves open to abuse and manipulation and, in the case of those struggling with addiction, to further substance abuse or relapse. Yet for someone whose struggle with addiction has left them unable to set proper boundaries, it can be a hard habit to pick up or establish for the first time. But it is vital.
Only by learning about setting boundaries in recovery can we then be able to navigate healthy relationships.
While we often value being open with others and willing to let friends and loved ones into our lives, that does not mean setting aside all boundaries. Boundaries, in many ways, help define who we are, particularly to ourselves. By knowing where we draw the line and what parts of ourselves we seek to protect, we better know ourselves and better establish trust with others.
Many addicts and former addicts struggle with creating boundaries; some people become addicts because they struggled to set clear boundaries before falling into substance abuse. They let themselves be influenced and manipulated into addiction and, even after rehab, can struggle to protect themselves from bad influences through insufficient boundaries.
But boundaries are important. We all set boundaries on multiple levels, physical, mental, even spiritual. We decide who can and cannot touch us, who can hug us and who we prefer to shake hands with. We decide whose advice to listen to and who we don’t trust. We choose where to go and what media we choose to watch or listen to. We choose what to believe and how we want to believe it.
Without clear boundaries, this can create problems, particularly for a recovering addict. Someone who struggles with alcohol may need to choose whether to go to an event where alcohol will be served. Without clear boundaries, they may let peer pressure push them into attending and find themselves drinking. Others may be able to go if they feel they can do so without indulging in a drink, but only because they have set strong boundaries and know their own limitations.
Boundaries can be uncomfortable. We may need to cut people out of our lives if they create a toxic relationship. We may need to stop going to certain places or doing certain tasks if they lead to destructive cravings. But boundaries are vital to set strong relationships with those we can trust and prevent relapse.
With clear boundaries in place, the recovering addict can develop better connections with friends and loved ones, knowing they know where to draw the line and who they can trust to have their back.
At Good Landing Recovery, patients can learn how to better set boundaries and develop stronger relationships accordingly. With healthy relationships in place, the recovering addict can navigate the world with more confidence and avoid relapse.
Boundaries are necessary in every facet of life. By learning to set boundaries in recovery, the former addict can navigate healthier relationships and find greater success going forward.