Living in Recovery Mental Health Relationships

5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries with an Addict or Alcoholic

Living with or even for that matter, being in close proximity to an active alcoholic or addict can be tremendously difficult. Read More

setting boundaries

Living with or even for that matter, being in close proximity to an active alcoholic or addict can be tremendously difficult. It can cause you to question your own reality and it can cause you to change your own morality in order to deal with the insanity of their illness. It causes people to question the very fabric of their decision making and often times, it can infect those people around the afflicted to such a degree that they need to seek professional help in order to cope.

While this may sound a bit over the top, if you talk to anyone who has had a loved one suffer from one of these illnesses, they will be able to attest to just how trying of an experience it was. They will be able to tell you that for the duration of the addiction, or until they themselves sought help, they lived under constant stress and fear. That in time, they were unable to tell the true from the false as the addict or alcoholic spun a web of deceit and misdirection around them that rivaled that of the greatest propagandist known to man.

That is what addiction is though. It is an illness that affects everyone that it touches and it rips families and friendships apart with terrifying ease. It is such a powerful illness that there are a number of support groups devoted simply to people who know an addict or alcoholic. Think about that for a minute. Addiction and alcoholism are so powerful that if you even know a person who suffers from them, you may qualify for your own 12 Step program. That is an astounding thing and what it reveals is that if you have someone in your life who is suffering from an addiction, you have to make sure to take care of yourself so that you do not fall into the traps that addiction can lay.

One of the best ways to ensure self-care when dealing with an addict or alcoholic is by setting up healthy boundaries so that you can minimize the impact that their illness has on you.

As simple as this may sound, setting up healthy boundaries with an addict or alcoholic can be a very difficult task at first. Many people who have a loved one who suffers from addiction do not know from the onset how to do this. Most of us just aren’t born equipped to handle such a cunning dilemma and because of this, we more than likely have unhealthy boundaries when it comes to the addict or alcoholic in our lives.

This is what addiction and alcoholism seek to do- it seeks to get those around the addict or alcoholic to participate in their delusion so that it can continue to grow unimpeded. But with that said, breaking this habit of having unhealthy boundaries and creating healthier ones is not impossible. It can be difficult and can take concerted effort on your part, but if you have the willingness to change, and the support necessary to help with that change, you can learn how to create healthy boundaries with the addict or alcoholic in your life.

Creating Healthy Boundaries with an Alcohol or Addict

1. Never Give Them Money

This one may sound like a given but many times, the addict or alcoholic in your life will come up with very convincing reasons why they need some extra cash. On the surface, these reasons may seem to make sense, but upon closer inspection, the reasoning usually falls apart. As difficult as it can be to cut a loved one off financially, it is imperative if you are going to set up new boundaries with them. A good rule of thumb is to never give them money until they have proven they are sober for quite a while.

2. Do Not Make Excuses for Them

This is something that most loved ones of alcoholics or addicts want to do because they not only want to protect their own appearance, which is understandable, but they also want to help their loved one. The reality is that doing this, whether it is making excuses for a job or some social gathering, does nothing but allow the addict or alcoholic to avoid responsibility. Remember that their addiction is not your fault and it is not a reflection of who you are as a person, so let them experience the consequences of their actions.

3. Don’t Bail Them Out

Not bailing out a loved one may mean literally not giving them bail money if they get into legal trouble or it may mean just not allowing them to experience whatever consequence is coming down the pike because of their addiction. As difficult as it can be, you have to let them fail. Doing so will allow them to experience the full weight of their situation and in turn, should help them to get sober.

4. Talk To Others About What Is Going On

Many times, addicts and alcoholics will attempt to convince you to keep their secret and while it may seem like loyalty to them calls for this, not talking to others about what you are going through does nothing but hurt you in the end. Don’t allow the addict or alcoholic in your life dictate who you talk to or what you talk about. Never censor yourself for others and make sure that you protect yourself and your sanity.

5. Stand By Your Convictions and Boundaries

The best way to create unhealthy boundaries is by saying you are going to enact a change if the person keeps drinking or using and then not following through. This shows the addict or alcoholic in your life that you are not serious and therefore your protests fall on deaf ears because they do not believe you. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Don’t worry about if it will upset them or not, just do what is right for you.

All of these things may seem harsh and may seem difficult to do but remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish. The addict or alcoholic in your life is currently doing whatever it is they want to do, albeit they are driven by a compulsion they cannot control, but that is of no concern. Set boundaries where you see fit and stand them unapologetically.