• Sophia Carter

Creating Boundaries with a Loved One with Addiction

When a loved one faces addiction, it can be easy to become consumed with trying to help them. However, this is the reason so many loved ones of people struggling with addiction end up suffering, too. Being this role can be stressful and lead to many conflicting emotions. "If I help, am I enabling?" "Do I lean in, or withdraw from this relationship?" "Should I play good cop or bad cop? We offer counseling services for loved ones supporting those with substance use disorder. One of the things we work on most is boundary setting.



How Do I Know It’s Time to Set Boundaries?

Placing firm boundaries in any relationship is essential for its wellbeing. Establishing boundaries with a loved one struggling with addiction is even more important to maintain the health of your relationship along with your own general wellbeing. However, the boundaries you set in most other relationships will typically have to be different than those you have to set with a loved one struggling with addiction. It might be time to set firmer boundaries in your relationship if:

  • You feel you are being taken advantage of

  • Your own health and wellbeing is beginning to suffer

  • You are trying to solve your loved one’s problems when they haven’t asked

  • You are trying to control your loved one and threatening ultimatums if they don’t listen

  • They have stolen from you

  • You feel as though you are walking on eggshells around them

  • You are constantly guilt-tripping your loved one

  • You find yourself lying to others or skipping out on your responsibilities for them


How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries will be a great form of care for yourself, your loved one, and the relationship between the two of you. When thinking of boundaries to set with your loved one, take the time to understand what areas of the relationship may be causing tension for you, what you need from them, and what you are willing and not willing to do for them.


Every relationship is different, so every person will have different boundaries. This is why it is vital to sit down and think about your own wants and needs for your particular relationship with your loved one. A few examples of boundaries you can set include:

  • No alcohol or drugs in your home or around you and your family. When thinking of boundaries to set with a loved one struggling with addiction, it is perfectly acceptable to let them know you are not comfortable around the substances, having them in your house, or for them to be anywhere near your children. Set this boundary and let them know what you will do if they break it- whether this be going no-contact, kicking them out of your home, or something else.

  • Being treated with respect at all times. When someone is struggling with addiction, they may become irritable or disrespectful to the people around them. This is because those with an addiction suffer from many adverse effects when they are experiencing any withdrawals. Let your loved one know that you will not accept disrespect from them as you need to protect your own mental health and wellbeing.

  • Not spending your money to bail them out of troubles they may encounter. When you let your loved one know that you will not bail them out if they find themselves in trouble, it allows them to take responsibility for their actions. Knowing that they do not have you to depend on if they get themselves into trouble will grant them a sense of responsibility to keep themselves out of trouble.

Seeing a loved one suffer from addiction is heart-breaking. You will likely want to do everything you can to help them out. However, when you do not place firm boundaries around your relationship with this person, you may find yourself consumed with trying to help them- to the detriment of your own health and wellbeing. Contact us today if you're ready to seeking support for yourself.

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