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August 9, 2021

Setting boundaries with your friends and family while you're in recovery

After doing all the necessary hard work during treatment for your addiction issues, there will come a time when you have to leave rehab. With your recovery underway, it will be your responsibility to protect your recovery and avoid relapses by any means necessary. Of course, that will not always be an easy thing for you to do. There are many ways you can trip and fall but only one way to stay sober, don't drink or use drugs.

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August 9, 2021

While in treatment, you probably spent a lot of time in individual therapy. We know that because that is exactly where we focus when we work with our clients. We want to give them a chance to learn the truth about what is driving their need to use drugs or alcohol. We use that information to help our clients develop coping skills that will protect them against temptation and their personal triggers.

Setting Boundaries With Family and Friends

Most likely, you came to the realization that your family and friends played some role in your addiction. Some might have been victims of your behavior while others might have been enablers or ever participants. All of these people can stand as support resources or obstacles during your recovery. Which side of the fence they end up on will depend on how you set boundaries for them.

For the Victims

Sadly, there were likely people in your life who suffered collateral damage from your addictive behaviors. Hopefully, you got a chance to resolve those issues and mend fences while in rehab. Family therapy can work wonders in that regard.

As for setting boundaries for these folks, we would suggest that you work to make amends with them. They need to understand that you have an illness that cannot be cured. At the same time, you need to give them reasons to forgive your behavior. Let them become part of your support inner circle, but don't expect immediate trust.

For the Enablers

You need to help educate the enabler in your life about the problems their enabling causes you. It's not about placing blame, it's more about making them aware that you can accept no from them. They need to know you won't turn on them if they choose to hold you accountable for your actions.

Enablers are people who tend to care too much. They don't want to watch their loved ones suffer so they choose to be helpful and supportive in all the wrong ways. Because they really care about you, you need to establish the boundary of "NO" enabling. It's your responsibility to explain to them how much more you will benefit from them holding you accountable. Their enabling is dangerous because it would give you a license to abort your recovery and return to drinking/using.

For the Participants

This is where things could get difficult. The participants were the people you drank with, got high with, or who gave you access to drugs or alcohol. If you want to protect your recovery, these are the people you might need to eliminate from your life.

If the participants are still drug users and drinkers, your boundary should say "no entry." These folks will bring with them temptation if you allow them to do so. It doesn't matter how much you might care about them, you need to let them know you cannot be around drinkers and drug users.

We have considered the fact you might have close family members in this group. However, we are very much aware that if anyone truly loves you and respects your efforts to get clean and stay clean, they will isolate you away from their ugly world of substance abuse. If they can do that, a relationship with them is possible.

If some of the participants have said goodbye to their substance abuse issues, your boundaries with them should focus on being supportive of one another. You both share the bond of recovery. These are the loved ones who can help you walk the straight and narrow path of recovery because they too have been there and done that.

At the end of the day, it is unreasonable for you to go about eliminating people from your life without first setting boundaries. Once you set boundaries, you will quickly learn who you can count on to help you while in recovery. The ones who don't respect your boundaries won't be missed when you go on without them to lead a successful life without having to depend on drugs or alcohol.

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