How to Set Boundaries in Recovery

The failure to set boundaries in recovery is one of the biggest threats to those with a history of substance use disorder.

Loose boundaries can allow others to negatively influence your behavior or take advantage of your situation. Setting boundaries early on in your recovery will help you stay on track and let your loved ones know where the limits are throughout the process.

Being around friends and family can hold a different dynamic than the one you might have with co-workers or new acquaintances. Your friends and family members have likely been through a lot with you, and it’s vital to let them know where you’re at with your recovery. The new boundaries you’re setting will factor into your relationships, and figuring out how to manage these boundaries will be one of the first steps you’ll take in the recovery process.


Why You Should Set Boundaries

Throughout active addiction, it’s easy to let the boundaries you have set with the people around you fail. Poor boundaries can lead to manipulative, dangerous relationships, an uneven power dynamic, and a host of other unpleasant relational consequences. Some unhealthy boundaries include not taking responsibility for your actions, forcing and discouraging other’s opinions and beliefs, and sacrificing your values to appease others.

On the other hand, setting clear boundaries allows you to create healthy relationships, regain mutual trust and respect, share your thoughts openly, and give you a platform to state your values and goals for the future of your recovery. Creating boundaries for the people that are in your life will facilitate healthier relationships and allow you to flourish in your recovery and beyond.


What Boundaries Should You Set?

Figuring out what boundaries to set will look different for each relationship you have. For instance, the boundaries you have with you parents will look different than those you have with your friends or your significant other. The boundaries you set can be physical, mental, or emotional. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Let those around you know you don’t want them talking about or using substances in your vicinity.
  • Establish relationships where it’s okay to share your thoughts and feelings without negative repercussions.
  • Don’t allow other people to abuse or manipulate you.
  • Don’t allow others to solely depend on you for their own emotional stability.


Inform Your Loved Ones

After determining what boundaries you’ll have with the people in your life, it’s time to inform them. It’s common for people to set boundaries and then fail to let others know. This can make your loved ones feel as though they should be able to read your mind, and it can be very frustrating for them and you.

Have a discussion with each person and go over what boundaries you’ve decided to set for your relationship going forward. Telling them up front lets them know you’re serious and that you expect them to respect the boundaries you’ve put in place.


Stay Firm

Being in recovery is difficult on its own, and managing new boundaries within your relationships can only make it more challenging. Find someone who completely understands that you need these boundaries around your relationships, and lean on their support if other people you surround yourself with aren’t being respectful of your decisions.

Create boundaries that will benefit your relationships and don’t be afraid to stick up for them if anyone dismisses them. They’re necessary for your recovery, and anyone you allow to be in your life should respect your wishes.

If you’re looking for support throughout your recovery, reach out to us today. At The GateHouse, we provide residential treatment and intensive outpatient programs where we can help you determine what boundaries you want to set with the people in your life.

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