Setting boundaries is an important life skill for anyone, but it’s particularly helpful for people in drug addiction rehab. People dealing with substance abuse and addiction often come from families with unhealthy boundaries. In some cases, the lines drawn were too rigid, leading to stifled emotions and a lack of emotional support; in other situations, a lack of boundaries left families too intertwined, making it nearly impossible to form a real identity. As life goes on, it can be hard to break out of these family roles and patterns, which increases the risk of depression and addictive behavior. Part of most addiction programs and addiction support groups involves learning how to set healthy boundaries and respect the boundaries of other people.
Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Boundaries in Drug Addiction Rehab
When you’ve lived your whole life in a family with unhealthy boundaries, you may not even know what positive boundaries look like. Healthy boundaries aren’t designed to control other people or keep them at arm’s length; instead, they allow you to take care of your needs, say “no” when it’s appropriate and define the kind of alcohol or drug addiction treatment that you’re willing to accept. Positive boundaries keep you from feeling used by others or allowing other people to define you.
How to Set Your Own Boundaries in Drug Addiction Rehab
If you’ve completed outpatient or inpatient substance abuse treatment, you’ve probably spent some time learning about boundaries, but you may not be sure how to set them yourself. A few tips recommended by drug addiction support professionals can keep you on track:
1. Recognize your own rights: The first step toward setting healthy boundaries is to acknowledge that you have the right to your own feelings and beliefs. For people who grew up in dysfunctional families, this can be a difficult task.
2. Set your limits: Once you’ve figured out how you want to be treated, you’ll need to begin setting limits with other people. A simple example of setting limits might involve friends who still drink or use. You might only want to meet these friends during daytime hours, or you may limit your meetings to certain places that don’t trigger you.
3. Speak up for yourself: It’s important to assert yourself if you feel your boundaries have been violated. You don’t have to lash out at people to communicate your needs: A clear, honest approach is most effective.
4. Respect your inner voice: When you get an uncomfortable feeling inside, chances are good that one of your boundaries is being crossed. Staying in touch with your inner voice and trusting your instincts will help you act in ways that honor your boundaries.
5. Enforce your boundaries: Your boundaries will be tested from time to time, so you’ll need to define some consequences that you can enforce. If certain people repeatedly violate your boundaries, you may need to reconsider your relationship with them.
It’s clear that setting healthy boundaries is a key step in the journey toward recovery. Breaking free of old patterns can be hard, but the rewards of defining your own voice make the effort worthwhile. When you establish clear and healthy boundaries, you begin to discover who you really are.
If you or someone you care about could benefit from outpatient addiction treatment, contact Discovery Transitions today at 1 (866) 916-3211 to speak with an addiction counselor. We can provide information about the treatment programs at our intensive outpatient addiction treatment center and answer any questions you might have about your addiction and recovery.