Healthy Boundaries While My Loved One Is In Rehab

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or choice. “ – Brene Brown

Loving someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can be very similar to hugging a cactus. The harder you try and squeeze, the more it hurts. Unlike any other disease, struggling with addiction, the “well” person tries to help the sick person too often, and the “well” person ends up getting sick before the ill person can get well.

Having the want to help others without being able to control their actions and behavior can cause trauma to ourselves. There’s nothing more painful than watching a loved one suffer and not being able to help.

Behaviors To Avoid

Many, if not most, self-help books or spiritual traditions support the statement “No relationship can be healthier than the two individuals involved.” With that being said, let us look into a few things from the behaviors and side effects of a non-addict side of a toxic relationship and some tips to change those dynamics.

    Toxic Traps:

  • Judging and criticizing
  • Lending money without getting repaid
  • Providing ultimatums
  • Making suggestions when they don’t want help
  • Keeping secrets

More than likely, this is the tip of the iceberg. When getting a person into treatment, it is a perfect time to set up new boundaries and new dynamics. Most often, the clinical staff will be the most helpful in putting together new ground rules for when the clients return home.

Setting Boundaries

The first obstacle involved in setting boundaries is overcoming the guilt involved. Support groups, such as Al-Anon can be beneficial in this process. The results from working with others, and the encouragement they offer can be a powerful tool and have successful results. Guilt will resist the truth from coming out. Enabling your loved one stems from fear, guilt, and a well-intentioned desire to be helpful but often makes matters worse. Boundaries are a valuable asset in helping put their lives back together.

A Psychology Today article states, “When you set appropriate boundaries and stop taking on other peoples responsibilities, they’re left with no choice but to complete their own tasks, resolve their own problems, and find their own resources. At first, you’ll probably feel guilty about this, but it will help you to remember that this means other people will take more responsibility for themselves, which will improve their functioning and ability to do for themselves.”

This article also suggests a few simple vital points to assist with a proper mindset:

  • Know your limits
  • Be firm
  • Know that you’re worthy
  • Change your role in your relationship
  • Make time or yourself
  • Apply your boundaries
  • Don’t expect to become a master at setting boundaries overnight

Setting Boundaries for Coming Home

Guidelines can be laid out pretty simply and should be done so before they are to return home from treatment. Make sure they agree to the terms set in place before they return home. There should be an overall understanding of these conditions, as well as a full understanding of what is to happen if these boundaries are broken.
A few standard and essential boundaries are:

    • No drug or alcohol use.
    • Submission to random drug testing (can be purchased at a local pharmacy for relatively cheap)
    • You will no longer bail them out of any addiction induced crises
    • No lying
    • Attendance in their recovery process.

How do I Know if These Boundaries Should Be Used?

The outcome will mostly be tailored to your relationship in a more personal manner. The boundaries that were before that were not in a place were the critical indicators of what allowed them to be used in the past.

Before anything, self-concern should always come first. Regardless of the benefit to the one struggling, the boundaries are put in place for the one enforcing them. No matter how hard, the family member, friend, or loved one, must learn to be okay even if the addict or alcoholic choose the route of their addiction. We need to continue to do our best to teach love and support by applying it to ourselves first.

Resources for your Family

CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous)
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today at (888) 345-2025. We are available to you 24/7!