Almost everyone has a friend or relative suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs. The closer you are to an addicted loved one, the harder setting boundaries with an addict is. Addicted loved ones may lie, cheat or steal to cover their tracks. Even people with otherwise rock-solid boundaries can find alcoholics and addicts pushing every limit. You may be like many, though, and have never practiced the skill of setting boundaries with anyone, let alone an addict.
Why Is Setting Healthy Boundaries Important?
When you have weak boundaries, you compromise who you are. You lose yourself, your freedom, your control and your “territory.” Because you can only really control yourself, healthy boundaries are essential to self-care. You might ask, especially if the addict in your life is your child, “How can I be a good mother (or loved) with such limits? It’s like putting a wall up. I feel guilty or like I’m betraying this person in their hour of need.” Yes, it is excruciating to see someone you love struggle with addiction. But, like they say on the airplane, you need to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Healthy boundaries give you a chance to put your oxygen mask on. This is why setting good boundaries with an addict is critical. You’ll find that you are actually of little to no help to others without them.
1. Determine What Behavior Is Unaccptable
2. Set the Consequences for When Your Addicted Loved One Crosses Your Boundaries
Now that you know what behavior is unacceptable to you, figure out some reasonable consequences if these boundaries are crossed. Setting boundaries with an addict is actually the easy part; it is enforcing them that is challenging. So many self-help articles on setting boundaries simply advise pointing out to the alcoholic or addict when they have crossed the line. Truthfully, this Disn’t very effective, as you’ve no doubt already told the alcoholic a million times not to be late or not to drive drunk or whatnot. In fact, you’ve probably asked every which way possible to the point of becoming a nag. A boundary without a consequence is worthless.
3. Detach with Love
Setting Boundaries with an Addict Doesn’t Always Save the Relationship
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