When someone you love is struggling with addiction, it can feel impossible not to get stuck on an emotional rollercoaster with them. Their behaviors affect you too, and you may experience intense feelings of sadness, guilt, and anger as you watch them struggle with the disease. However, when you establish boundaries with a loved one who is addicted, you not only protect yourself but ensure you are not enabling their destructive behavior. Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship, but even more so when someone you care about is struggling with addiction.
What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries are rules and guidelines that you establish to protect your well-being. They draw lines in the sand to ensure you are not taken advantage of by others. To define your boundaries, think about what you will allow in your life and what you won’t put up with. Figuring out the types of behaviors that are negatively impacting you is an excellent place to start. Setting boundaries can require uncomfortable conversations, but being upfront and honest is critical.
Some examples of setting boundaries with a loved one struggling with addiction include:
- Not allowing them to use drugs or drink in front of you
- Prohibiting drugs or drug paraphernalia in your home
- Not covering or lying for them
- Not lending them money
- Not putting up with any abusive behavior
- Not bailing them out of jail
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
Everyone is responsible for their own actions, and you can’t control what others choose to do or say. However, you are responsible for the type of behavior you allow others to display around you. The less your loved one is enabled, the more likely they are to seek help. If your loved one is consistently getting bailed out from the problems their addiction creates, they will not have any motivation to change their behavior.
Setting boundaries also allows you not to take on the consequences of your loved one’s addiction as your own. When you don’t take on their consequences, you lessen your feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger. Setting boundaries allows you to protect yourself and your well-being.
Setting boundaries with your loved one may be challenging at first, especially if you have been enabling their addiction for some time. It can be hard to change your ways overnight. Just remember that you are doing this for their own good and yours as well.
Explain the Consequences
Boundaries are nothing without consequences. When you talk to your loved one about your expectations, be sure to also go over the consequences of breaking these rules. If they do not pay rent, explain that they will be kicked out. If they are found with drugs in your house, tell them that they will not be invited back. Going over these consequences can let your loved one know that you are serious.
The most important part of setting boundaries is following through. Boundaries are nothing but empty threats if you do not back them up. If your loved one continues to get away with their bad behavior without consequences, they will never stop. Many people struggling with addiction eventually go to a treatment center and get sober because they no longer want to carry the weight of the negative consequences associated with their addiction.
Think About the End Goal
While kicking out your loved one or not bailing them out of jail may seem harsh, you need to remember why you are setting these boundaries. If you continue to enable their addiction and have zero boundaries, they will never get sober. Why would they ever stop if they never have to face the consequences? When you are feeling weak or like you may cave, remember your end goal. You want them to get to the point of wanting to get sober. To get to this point, you need to set boundaries.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
While setting boundaries, it is essential to also take care of yourself. Setting boundaries and dealing with loved ones who are struggling can be emotionally and mentally draining. Take time to yourself to recharge and let your emotions out. You can do this through simple self-care activities such as taking a bath or journaling or more intensive care such as therapy. Remember not to be ashamed to go to therapy–you may be setting an example for your loved one and showing them it’s okay to get help.
There are many support groups for people with addicted loved ones. In a support group, you can find people to support you through this journey who have been through it themselves. They can also help you with the process of setting boundaries. Some support groups include:
- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones
- Families Anonymous
- Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)
Watching your loved one struggling with addiction can be heartbreaking. You may experience feelings of guilt, anger, and extreme sadness as you watch them struggle with the disease. To protect yourself and your loved one, it is crucial to set boundaries. While this process can be challenging, it is necessary to protect your well-being and allow your loved one to experience their own consequences. The less your loved one is enabled, the more likely they are to seek help. When setting boundaries, remember to explain the consequences, follow through, think about the end goal, and, most importantly, take care of yourself. If your loved one has decided to get the help they need, Hired Power can help. The responsibility of ensuring that the proper care is received and is effective is often a burden on an individual or their family members. Let us remove this burden and allow you to focus on your healing. To learn more about our services, call Hired Power today at (800) 910-9299.