Creating Healthy Boundaries When a Loved One is Struggling with Addiction

Every healthy relationship has boundaries, whether you realize it or not. There are certain mutually agreed upon behaviors and responsibilities. Each person knows their role and where they fit in. However, when a loved one is struggling with addiction, these boundaries may be overlooked or broken. Addiction doesn’t only affect the person misusing drugs or alcohol; it affects the entire family and anyone close to the person. Setting boundaries is a way for you to protect yourself and feel more in control of your life while also encouraging your loved one to seek addiction treatment.

It is important that once you set boundaries, you stick to them. It can be so easy to bend the rules because you don’t want to see the person struggle or you think that this time it will be different. One of the keys to establishing boundaries is following through, even though it can be difficult.

Behaviors and Consequences

Take time to reflect and decide what behaviors your loved one does that are unacceptable to you. Spend a few days observing them to get a better sense of what they do when they’re under the influence that creates an unhealthy environment. This could include things like misspending money, always being late, lying, or being verbally or physically abusive.

Once you have your list, be clear with consequences. If they’re late, wait a few minutes and then go without them. If they’re lying or abusive, remove yourself from the situation and spend the night at a hotel or a friend’s house. If they’re misspending money, set up your own bank account. If they miss a meeting, don’t lie to cover up for them. It’s tough, but allowing them to experience natural consequences can be eye-opening.

Supporting Treatment

As you reinforce these boundaries, you may realize that you’re spending less time together or you’re becoming more independent in your own life. Your loved one may realize that too and begin to see the effects of their decisions. Continue to be supportive and encouraging of seeking treatment. If they’re ready to accept help, be ready to act right away. Don’t give them the opportunity to change their mind or talk themselves out of it.

Making Your Family a Priority

Setting healthy boundaries isn’t always easy and you may feel guilty about letting your loved one struggle. But remember: you are doing what is best for them, for you, and for your family. Their addiction is not healthy and can do more damage than good. You’re setting boundaries out of love and compassion – because you want to see them enter treatment and get the help they need for recovery. Once in treatment, you can begin rebuilding your relationship and regaining trust that was lost.

You are not alone in this journey. Attending support group meetings for families, family programs, or counseling for yourself can be beneficial. You can talk to others who have been through similar situations and have had to put boundaries in place themselves. You can learn more about addiction, recovery, and its impact on the family. These activities can help you feel more confident that you are making the right decision and doing what is best for everyone involved.

When your loved one is ready to make a change, Crossroads is here. We offer gender-responsive treatment for those struggling with addiction as well as a variety of supports for families including counseling and educational sessions. Crossroads understands that addiction affects the entire family and strives to provide everyone with the support they need for recovery.

[cta]Do you want to learn more about setting boundaries or how to get your loved one into treatment? Contact Crossroads today.[/cta]