Setting Boundaries for Loved Ones

woman holding her hand up in a stop gesture

When it comes to addiction recovery and its success, there are several factors involved.

While achieving and maintaining sobriety is key, other important actions must be taken. One of these actions is setting boundaries for loved ones. What does it mean to set boundaries? According to Darlene Lancer, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationships and codependency, “Healthy emotional and mental internal boundaries help you not to assume responsibility for, or obsess about, other people’s feelings and problems – something codependents commonly do. Strong internal boundaries curb suggestibility… When you’re blamed, if you don’t feel responsible, instead of defending yourself or apologizing, you can say, “I don’t take responsibility for that.”

In addiction recovery, it is equally as important for the addict or alcoholic to set boundaries for their loved ones as it is for the loved ones to set boundaries for the addict or alcoholic. When one or more family members become addicted, boundaries become blurred and distorted on both sides. It is vital for communication to be at its very best in situations where families are dealing with a member in recovery.

Healthy boundaries include:

  • Taking personal responsibility for everything you say and do
  • Supporting the sharing of thoughts and feelings
  • Respecting others at all times, even if you don’t agree
  • Honoring your own beliefs, no matter what
  • Encouraging healthy communication

It is important to note that setting boundaries without enforcing them negates the end result. Boundary setting and enforcing isn’t easy, though. The concept is simple, but when family roles have been disturbed and often warped by addiction, the reality is a bit more complicated. The bottom line is that it can take practice, and as long as everyone is committed to achieving healthy boundaries, it can and will be accomplished. In fact, those healthy boundaries can be passed along through the years to other generations, creating a healthy trend that will positively impact the families and individuals beyond belief.

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What Are Personal Boundaries? How Do I Get Some? (n.d.). Retrieved March, 2017.

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