Why Are Boundaries So Crucial for Family Members with an Addiction?


At Choice House, we understand just how much drug and alcohol addiction impacts the family unit. Not only does it tear apart the life of the person who is struggling with the addiction, but their loved ones are often left frustrated, helpless and heartbroken due to the addiction. Because of this reality, our Boulder drug rehab center focuses greatly on repairing the entire family. One of the ways we do this is through our family program that delves into a wide array of relevant issues.

A highly important issue that families often struggle with is the concept of boundaries. We want to help our loved one in any way we can, but we also don’t want to be taken advantage of or enable their addiction. Where do we find the balance?

First of all, let’s discuss…

Why it’s crucial to establish boundaries in addiction recovery:

  • Helps restore peace and prevents situations from getting out of control.

    Addiction is anything but orderly and peaceful but failing to set boundaries increases the chaos tenfold. Establishing appropriate boundaries saves you from getting wholly sucked into the insanity and helps you maintain your own health.

  • Prevents you from enabling their addiction.

    The ultimate goal is for your loved one to recover from their drug or alcohol addiction. By letting them take advantage of you or overstep their boundaries, you are only prolonging their addictive behavior.

  • Encourages them to seek professional help.

    When your loved one realizes they won’t be able to lean on their family to fuel the addiction, it encourages them to seek help from a professional drug treatment facility.

What are ways I can establish boundaries for my family member struggling with addiction?

    • Don’t agree to keep their secrets.

      This rule is especially important for siblings of those struggling with addiction. It is very common for a person to start lying to cover up their drug and alcohol abuse – “I’ve only had one drink,” “I didn’t steal this money,” “I’m not going to spend time with a friend who uses drugs,” etc. You are not your brother’s, father’s or cousin’s keeper. You have a responsibility to tell a trusted source about their addictive behavior so that they can seek help before they harm themselves and others.

    • Remember what each person’s role in the family is.

      If you have a parent struggling with addiction, it can be very easy for the roles to be reversed, i.e., the parent starts acting like the child, and the child feels the need to care for the parent. Take a step back and define what your job is in the family. It is not your role to care for your parent financially and emotionally when drug addiction takes its toll.

    • Refuse to be guilted into enabling the addiction.

      As desperation sinks in, a person dealing with addiction will sometimes resort to guilting their loved ones into fueling their habits. “I sacrificed so much to give you a good upbringing,” “I loaned you money years ago,” or “You make me stressed so I have to drink” are common phrases of someone trying to justify their addiction. Don’t give into the guilt – this will only make it easier for them to keep abusing drugs and alcohol.

When a family member suffers, everyone suffers. Don’t go through this alone. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, Choice House is here to relieve the burden and transform their lives. Talk to a team member today: 720-577-4422 or hello@choicehouse.com.


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