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Setting Healthy Boundaries During Recovery

Setting Healthy Boundaries During Recovery

“Boundaries” is a buzzword we often hear in connection with relationships, therapy & mental health services, and addiction recovery. Learning what boundaries are, and how to create and maintain them, is critical to successful and long-term sobriety. Let us help you take some of the mystery out of defining and setting healthy boundaries during recovery.

What are “boundaries”?

The Betty Ford Foundation tells us this about healthy and unhealthy boundaries: “Healthy boundaries help people define who they are as a way to ensure relationships are safe, supportive and respectful. Unhealthy boundaries are thoughts or behaviors used as a means to manipulate or control relationships to keep people away.” In other words, boundaries are just guidelines we create for ourselves for the behavior we will engage in (or tolerate from other people) to maintain supportive and respectful relationships. Boundaries are necessary for the alcoholic or addict in recovery, as well as for those who are part of the support network.

How can we set boundaries?

In periods of active drug and alcohol abuse, addicts bend and blur boundaries until they are unrecognizable. Unsurprisingly, a lack of boundaries probably contributed to the addictive behavior in the first place. The first step is to create a list of your personal goals or values in five different areas and then determine what lines you want to maintain within them. The five areas are:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Sexual
  • Financial

Putting it together

Deciding on healthy boundaries will be a real journey of discovery. This is especially true for many who have never experienced them at all. The most significant part of this process is investigating what actions, thoughts, and motivations align with your personal and moral values. Once you have identified them, you need to make a plan to stick to the new boundaries you created. Communication will be an essential part of the process as you learn to express your feelings honestly - maybe for the first time - to yourself and others.

Facing obstacles

When you enforce your boundaries, people without healthy boundaries will get angry or upset. This is actually a common occurrence. When they can't manipulate you to get their needs met, some people will be frustrated that you don't act with co-dependency and dysfunction anymore. Stay firm, because healthy boundaries during recovery are good for you and everyone around you, too. Draw your lines and stay safely behind them. Your health - physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, and financial health is what’s at stake. You are worth the work and the peace it will bring.

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