How To Set Healthy Boundaries With An Addicted Loved One


It's a powerless feeling of hopelessness to know someone you love is an addict, and there's only so much you can do. But regardless of another person's struggles, it's no less imperative that self-care remains a priority, and that involves setting boundaries in the face of addiction.

This self-preservation through resiliency is the only way to care for your loved one in this crisis and offer the appropriate help and guidance when needed. The following explains how to set firm boundaries with an addict while working towards a healthy relationship.

  • Learn how to say no - and stick to it.

Loved ones in the grip of addiction may sometimes exhibit toxic behaviors such as lying, manipulation, and stealing. In addition, addiction may lead them to criminal activity or financial problems, struggle to maintain employment or housing, and difficulty keeping up with personal care or day-to-day responsibilities.

You are under no obligation to fix their problems. Doing so may develop into codependence, making it challenging for your loved ones to beat their addiction. This is especially the case if altered brain chemistry results from their addiction and they harm you or anyone else. By learning how to say no, you won't:

  • Lend your loved on financial support
  • Allow your loved one to steal from you or anyone else
  • Allow substance abuse in your home
  • Tolerate any form of abuse towards you or anyone else

When verbally expressing these boundaries, a compelling statement would be, "I care about you and your well-being. I'll be here with encouragement if you're ready to seek treatment for your addiction, but if you refuse to let go of drugs or alcohol, the following behaviors won't be tolerated…"

  • Create a support network.

When setting boundaries pushes your willpower and resiliency limits, it's often easier to cope with the help of professionals who understand your ordeal. Specialized communities assist with establishing boundaries, emotional coping, and creating healthy lifestyles away from addiction:

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families offer emotional nurturing and healing to help break the cycle.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups utilizes the 12-Step process to support and guide the loved ones of individuals struggling with alcoholism.
  • Co-Dependents Anonymous helps individuals break free of codependency and foster healthier relationships.
  • Nar-Anon Family Groups empathizes with what the loved ones of addicts experience and uses the 12-Step process to help them.
  • Practice regular self-care.

Investing in self-care routines provides the necessary resilience to get through the complicated process of addiction.

  • Exercise regularly and get enough rest.
  • Spend time outdoors, and play with pets, and friends and family who support you.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of life; do not dwell on your loved ones' addiction.
  • Don't weigh yourself down with complete responsibility for caring for this person.

Your self-identity, achievements, and personal meaning in life do not revolve around the addiction and recovery of your loved one. Creating healthy boundaries doesn't mean you love them any less - but it does provide you with valuable life skills to face the hurdles of substance abuse with confidence.