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How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Learning to establish boundaries is a skill that can improve your quality of life. Boundary setting could involve avoiding or limiting your exposure to certain people, places, or even activities.

Setting boundaries in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is critical to your success. You may need to set boundaries to avoid places that are triggering for your sobriety. A boundary may be necessary to create healthy relationships. It isn’t always easy to set boundaries, especially when it comes to adjusting your lifestyle after addiction to drugs or alcohol.

When it comes down to it, setting boundaries for yourself in recovery can help you avoid relapse and determine your level of success. Setting boundaries is only half of the battle, though. You must also follow through with them.

Boundaries in Recovery

What are boundaries in recovery? Boundaries set in recovery can help you protect yourself from people, places, or things that could jeopardize your sobriety. During treatment, you will likely reflect on the things that led to and contributed to your substance use. Perhaps you grew up with a parent who had an addiction to alcohol. Maybe a family member abused opioids, which exposed you to these substances. A boundary could even be set to help limit your interactions with people who may cause you stress or tension.

People, Places, and Things

You may also set boundaries around certain places or activities. You might choose to avoid places where you used to obtain or abuse substances. Returning to an environment that holds memories of substance use can be highly triggering and lead to cravings.

Social events can also bring temptation. Setting boundaries when it comes to attending parties or gatherings can be very helpful. A few tips for boundary setting when it comes to attending parties or family gathers can include:

  • Making a plan to leave early
  • Bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages
  • Arriving early before things get too rowdy
  • Consider bringing a sober or supportive friend along with you

Follow Through

Setting boundaries is the first step. Step two is actually following through with the boundaries you have set. When it comes to setting boundaries with other people, it can sometimes be difficult to stick to the plan. For example, boundary setting can often involve close family members or loved ones. These tend to be the people we care about most and, thus, have the most significant effect on us.

Others may have trouble understanding the boundaries set. They may feel hurt or feel as if you are shutting them out. Involving family members and close friends in your treatment journey through a family program can help establish understanding and acceptance of the changes that need to occur.

Put Boundaries in Writing

One of the ways to ensure you remain aware of the boundaries you have set is to put them in writing. Often, writing things down can help you remember things. This can also help hold you accountable. If you have a journal, consider writing down your thoughts and experiences as you follow through with the boundaries you have set. This can allow for processing and help you recognize when you need to make adjustments.

Discuss Boundaries With Others

When you set boundaries in recovery, letting others know about them can be beneficial. Of course, if a boundary involves someone else, you will likely need to discuss it with them. In addition, it can be helpful to talk through your boundaries with your sponsor or therapist. They can offer feedback, provide suggestions, and help hold you accountable.

Stay True to Yourself and Reflect

When navigating life in recovery, you will have ups and downs and some doubts along the way. As you get more confident in your sobriety, it can be tempting to slack a bit when it comes to the boundaries you set fresh out of treatment. It is essential to reflect on the reasons you set the boundaries in the first place. Spend time thinking about why you felt it was necessary and what could go wrong.

When thinking about the reasons behind the boundaries you have set, remember where your priorities lie. You may feel pressured to break a boundary you have set to attend a certain party or to appease a loved one. In these moments, it is important to trust yourself and remain confident in your choice to set the boundary in question.

The upcoming holiday seasons are sure to bring plenty of family gatherings, parties, and celebrations. By setting firm, attainable boundaries, you can enjoy this time while still honoring your sobriety.

Setting boundaries is a very important part of the treatment and recovery process. It is crucial to make the necessary changes to relationships, habits, and lifestyle in order to support your decision to get clean. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients discover who and what may have contributed to their addiction and help them form healthy boundaries moving forward. We assess any trauma or co-occurring disorders that could have played a role in the addiction as well. Through our programs, clients learn more about themselves and how to cope with challenges they may face in recovery in healthy ways. Part of coping and continuing to heal in recovery involves setting and keeping necessary boundaries. If you or someone you love is battling drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to hear from you. To begin your recovery journey, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE.

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